2008-05-14 / Obituaries

Jim Vickery

Jim Vickery, longtime Garrison resident and entrepreneur died peacefully at the Castle Point VA Hospital of a brain tumor on December 13, 2007. He was 74 year old.

A Detroit native, Mr. Vickery, was born in 1933. A gifted graphic artist, writer, carpenter, musician, composer, and lyricist, Jim attended Cass Tech in Detroit, and later attended Wayne State University in Michigan. He worked in the General Motors Design Department in Detroit where he also spent several years playing with jazz groups in Canadian music scene.

After joining the Army he became a member of the famous Seventh Army band in Germany, a group which included some of the best jazz musicians from the Detroit area.

In the early 1960s, Jim moved to New York City, where he studied with Robert Andrew Parker at the School of Visual Arts on 23rd Street in Manhattan. He also took writing classes with Denise Levertov, poet and an editor at The Nation.

In New York City he began gigging with some of the rising stars of New York's avant garde jazz scene and made a name in the Village jazz circuit.

By the 1970s he had moved up to Putnam County where he established himself as a talented sign maker. His distinctive, hand crafted signs still grace many of the storefronts and businesses in Cold Springs.

While he continued to play music, his interests led him to forsake the avant garde in favor of more traditional forms of jazz. In 1985 Jim approached Tom Rolston, present owner of the Depot about painting a sign for his newly-opened restaurant. When the sign was completed he suggested to Rolston that he could put together a Dixieland jazz ensemble to play outdoors on weekends in the summer. That tradition lasted for 23 years and helped establish Cold Spring as a wonderful place to get off the train and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Though many know him as the trumpeter and vocalist leader of his "Depot Down- Home Dixieland Jam and Jelly Jazz Band" at the Depot Restaurant, Jim also played trombone, tuba, saxophone, flute, guitar, banjo, as well as acoustic and electric bass. In fact, there is hardly an instrument that Jim could not play. Moreover, his witty, original lyrics to familiar melodies have been a source of endless delight to those many fans who would come down to Depot Square and enjoy an afternoon of music at the restaurant's weekly outdoor concerts.

A memorial in Jim's honor will be held Monday, May 19th, starting at 6:00PM at the Depot. A group of musicians will play and sing some of Jim's original tunes and will celebrate the life of a man who brought much enjoyment to the people of Cold Spring.

In addition a collection will be taken for the "Jim Vickery Music Program Memorial Award" for the Haldane Music Department. The goal of the award is to encourage a lifetime of music performance in and around Cold Spring.

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