Chuck Hodson, 1953 - 2017

Alpha to Omega & Back Again

 Charles Bernard “Chuck” Hodson II, 64, of Mebane, NC died December 2, 2017 surrounded by friends and family at Hock Family Pavilion in Durham, NC.

Chuck will be lovingly remembered by his sister, Vickie, her husband Don Hoff, and their son Jonathan; his daughter Cinnamon, her husband Bill Fischer; Chewie the dog, and innumerable friends.

He was predeceased by his parents, Charles Bernard, I, of San Antonio, TX, and Virginia Allen of Dillon, SC; and by his wife, Tamara Jane Bowman of Pinehurst, NC.

A native of Chapel Hill, NC and a 1972 graduate of Chapel Hill High School, Chuck completed a year of coursework at Brevard College in Brevard, NC, before serving two years in the US Army, including a year’s tour of duty in West Berlin. After his military service, Chuck earned his associates degree in laboratory science at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC.

Chuck spent a combined total of more than thirty years as a medical laboratory technician in the Duke and UNC Hospital systems, before retiring from the McClendon Clinical Laboratories at UNC in fall 2012. With the assistance of his devoted supervisor, Jesse Frank Locklear, Chuck continued part-time service in the labs from spring 2013 to his terminal diagnosis in summer 2017.

Chuck enjoyed a life-long love affair with music, musicians, and musical performance, beginning with his long-time friend, Nat Rodman, at Guy B. Phillips Junior High School in Chapel Hill, and, later, with David Carlton at Chapel Hill High School. With the assistance of classmate Tommy McDonald’s mother, he and Tommy attended the Woodstock Music Festival in Woodstock, NY in the summer of 1969, a few months after his 16th birthday.

Inspired by the classic 20th century work of such artists as Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia, and their ensembles The Band and The Grateful Dead, Chuck taught himself to play several instruments, including acoustic and electric guitar and bass, and mandolin, becoming an accomplished member of community, as well as regional live-stage acts.

Chuck moved his music from neighborhood apartments and garages to live-performance settings when he teamed up with the noted, late, Chatham County country and gospel musician, Lester Porter (1933 – 2004), and Lester’s long time musical partner Bernard “Barney” Collins in the early 1980s. Rounding out the popular community quartet was the renowned instrumentalist and luthier, John Pringle of Efland, NC. The band was much-loved and supported by the extended community of clerks, mechanics, farmers, and families associated with the historic Mt Carmel Baptist Church community, founded in 1803 along the current Chatham-Orange County line. His association with Porter and his musical circle extended Chuck’s appreciation of the deep roots of Americana music, beyond the folk, pop, and blues-rock icons of his early youth.

Chuck’s first association with Alamance County musicians occurred when he performed with Lester at several of the former Fiddler’s Picnics, hosted annually between 1976 and 1987 at the Alamance County Historical Museum. Chuck was later to team back up with Peggy Boswell, the Fiddler’s Picnic founder, 20 years later in the ensemble Mebanesville. 

Chuck relocated his family from Chapel Hill to Mebane, NC in the winter of 1988-89, and entered a time of deepening focus on his late wife’s chronic, complex medical conditions. A fire in their Mebane home in the early 1990’s destroyed all of Chuck’s instruments. It took Chuck a while to rebuild his collection. As time allowed, Chuck slowly came into the acquaintance of neighbor musicians in Mebane and Hillsborough, and, after his wife entered extended care outside of the home, Chuck periodically hosted impromptu, informal music sessions in his living room, sometimes joined by his former bandmates, Porter and Pringle, as well as the musically-talented, UNC co-worker, Webb Wilson. However, by the time of his wife’s passing in 1998, it had been several years since Chuck had led a fully-active musical life.

In 1999, Chuck teamed back up with former boyhood musician friends Chuck Thibaut, Kevin Cohan, and Nat Rodman in weekly garage sessions in Chapel Hill that resulted in several live session recordings and a self-produced, rock and roll cover CD under the name “If Six Were Nine” at the Nightsound Studio in Carrboro, NC.

When his local Mebane musician-neighbors organized the ensemble Mebanesville in spring 2000, Chuck soon fell back into active, live performance. Chuck traveled the state with Mebanesville’s rotating community of musicians, performing at community events, house parties, and fund-raisers; in bars, clubs, parish halls, restaurants, and museums; as well as for college campuses, music festivals, wineries, and live radio broadcasts. The Mebanesville musical community deepened Chuck’s competence, not only in Americana music, but extended him into melodies and stories from the British and Irish Isles, as well as the Mediterranean and Caribbean basins.

Chuck’s active membership in Mebanesville brought him into a ten-year musical collaboration with fellow Mebane resident, the renowned traditional fiddler and singer, Joe Thompson (1918 – 2012). Working with Joe inspired Chuck to sing more, and to purchase a violin and saw away at developing his own sound—a sound that Chuck readily admitted never quite made it to prime time.

With Mebanesville, Chuck appeared on the Elon-University produced CD Christmas Cheer from Alamance County Musicians.” Additionally, Chuck recorded live with Mebanesville for Ken Denny at the Carrboro Music Festival, and in Joff Coe’s former Grand Ol’ Joffre Studio, which work appeared on Mebanesville’s self-produced CD, “Mebanesville Chiaroscuro.”

With the help of his musical friends Jane Davis, Jody McCall, Larry Vellani, and Nat Rodman, Chuck slowly transformed his front room into a much-loved and much-used rehearsal space for Mebanesville, as well as other musical fellow-travelers. Retirement afforded Chuck even more time to pursue his great love of music, establishing from spring 2013 on, in addition to Mebanesville’s weekly rehearsals, a Friday night music salon with his Mebane neighbors David Lobe and Mike Gasperino, and his long-time friend, Nat Rodman of Chapel Hill. The Friday crew was never at a loss for additional side musicians, including his friends in Mebanesville, and other Alamance–Orange County musicians, such as Dave Laukaitis, Don Porter (Lester Porter’s son), and Jamie Gartman.

Chuck remained musically active until a few short weeks before his death, performing his final evening-set with his long-time Mebanesville-mates Fernando Suárez, Larry Vellani, and Sherry Lea for the Burlington, NC/Soledad, SLP Sister Cities reception in Burlington, NC on Sunday October 17, and his final day-set with Mebanesville members Iryna Tkachenko, Jane Davis, Larry Vellani, and Peggy Boswell in Durham, NC on Friday afternoon November 10, three weeks before his death. 

Live music accompanied Chuck right through his passing, enjoying the bed-side musical company of David Lobe, Jane Davis, Jody McCall, Mike Gasperino, and Steve Block in his final 24 hours.

Three of the most regular Friday night musicians from the 2013 sessions forward--David Lobe, Ja,ie Gartman, and Mike Gasperino--have teamed up with Friday irregulars Jody McCall and Larry Vellani, to continue some of the core Friday material , playing out under the band name Jackson Street, a nod to Chuck's house at 100 East Jackson Street in Mebane, NC.

For the record, Chuck was far more than his musical high notes. He was a strong and loyal partner, not just to his fellow musicians, but to the love of his life, Tamara Bowman, their daughter Cinnamon, and his many co-workers at McClendon Labs; to all who shared his appetite for golf, cycling, skiing, single malt scotch, tequila, Tar Heel basketball, and preparing grilled meats and Mexican cuisine (Chuck’s paternal grandmother was a Mexican national); and to those who simply wandered up off the street, as more than one unmoored person or pet found safety, comfort, and authentic hospitality in Chuck’s home, sometimes for weeks and even months on end.

Chuck was an all-round best-buddy to more than any one man or any one woman. Men like Chuck are never entirely gone, as a little bit of him lives deep in each soul he touched. His kind and generous spirit, as well as his never-ending patience, is missed by all who knew him and continue to love him.