For me, one of the highlights of the Ukulele World Congress ’09 was getting to know the local folks and having them share their music. The first person I saw when I arrived in the field was a slight woman in white cotton sun dress with beautiful gray hair playing the sweetest fiddle tune I’d ever heard. Accompanied by a couple of ukes and a tenor guitar, that image and that moment set the tone for what would turn out to be a fantastic weekend. I knew when I heard and saw that group that Brown County was a special place and that this wasn’t your average uke-fest.
As the Congress went on, Allison Cochran’s quiet smile, sunny disposition, and damn fine fiddle playing made the show for me. With Chris Little on banjo and tenor guitar, their song “Goddess of Brown County” was so haunting and memorable I’ve been playing it ever since. Having her join in with me for harmonies on an impromptu version of the disco tune “I Will Survive” still cracks me up. It was one of those moments you just can’t plan for – too much fun. She brightened every jam she was a part of, and eventually became in my mind a sort of representation of all of the kindness, openness, and talent I met there in Brown County.
Mike wrote me today and let me know that Allison passed away. I don’t have any details – just that she’s gone. I didn’t know her other than those few hours in that field, but I sure will miss her…
So raise a glass, bow a head, play a song – whichever suits you – for the woman I began to think of as the real “Goddess of Brown County”. Adios Allison – You’ll be missed.