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Nat Hewitt

by Nils Fredland

New England fiddler Nat Hewitt died on the morning of Friday, November 23rd of complications from cancer. He leaves behind a 25-year-old son and two teenage daughters, and will be missed by the many people whose lives he touched through his music, generosity, and kindness.

When I think of Nat, I think of the sea, and of his love of sailing…that’s odd, because he and I never had a conversation about either of those things. I knew of Nat’s love of the ocean from his friends who joined him in that part of his life, and while I know he would have welcomed me onto his boat, I never asked to be included, and he never extended the invitation.

I have a lifelong reverence for the sea. But, when I am in the presence of big water, I am an observer – a member of the congregation – seeking perspective and healing, but also full of fear. Nat was an active participant in the company of the sea. I like to think of him as more like a preacher; similarly reverent, seeking perspective and healing, but also striving to gain a deep understanding of how to respectfully harness the power of the ocean, in order to live in tandem with it. I will always admire Nat’s courage, marked by his willingness to be out in the midst of all that chaos and beauty.

As a dance caller, I’ve shared the stage with many great fiddlers. I haven’t been able to explain why Nat’s fiddling stood out to me as unique in the midst of all of that greatness; why, despite the fact that Nat and I weren’t close friends, I always felt a certain kinship with him that went beyond our musical collaboration.

I realize now – it’s the sea. I could hear it in the way he played: polished and beautiful; but also passionate, raw, and fearless. His music never failed to fill me with the same feelings I get when I sit on the beach to watch the waves.

Thank you, Nat, for keeping me in touch with the wonder of the ocean. I miss you, friend.

Young Nat sailing

 

Should you wish, the family suggests gifts in Nat’s memory be sent to CDSS, 116 Pleasant St #345, Easthampton, MA  01027-2759.  Please include a note with your check directing the gift in memory of Nat Hewitt. You may also make a memorial gift online at www.cdss.org/appeal.

 

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Categories: Features & Fun | + 7 Comments »

7 Comments

  1. Daphne Reiley
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    A beautiful reflection Nils. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your words have touched me on several levels — being a minister and an occasional preacher, your analogy felt so spot-on.

    • Nils Fredland
      Posted December 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much, Daphne.

  2. Seth Hewitt
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Nils, for such a thoughtful post about my brother, Nat. He was all of what you say, a brave, excellent sailer, and an incredible musician. I have no doubt that he would have welcomed you onto his boat, I’m sorry that never happened. I miss him.

    -Seth Hewitt

    • Nils Fredland
      Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Hello Seth,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. It means a lot to me to hear from you. I really valued your brother’s friendship, inspired musicianship, and kindness. I miss him, too.
      Nils

  3. Lauren Mofford
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Nils. This is beautifully written. I am a long time contra dancer and I was a good friend of Nat’s. I appreciate your analogy and you chose 2 of my favorite photos of Nat.

    Lauren Mofford

  4. Ben Allbrandt
    Posted January 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I just found out about Nat’s passing from a friend in Maine. I met Nat one time, and I never forgot him. My wife and I lived in Nashau, NH, in 1994, and I made it to the “open mic” contra dance in Nelson one time, where I called a couple of dances. Mary DesRosiers was the lead caller, and there was this guy fiddling who was just “peeling the paint off of the walls.” I had never heard anything like it. I asked his name, and “Nat Hewitt” was all he ever said to me. He let his playing do his talking, and I knew right there that he had great things in front of him. Anyone who got to dance to his music was in for a real treat. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  5. Zeke Smukler
    Posted October 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I was sorry Nat died. But I heard him on a Mary DesRosiers tape and I’ve seen him at Campers’ Week at Pinewoods and have seen him play a dance at Spring Thaw Weekend in Toronto.

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