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Ray Scudero was a rare breed of man and artist. In a world where, like it or not, marketing and image-promotion is all part and parcel of a musician's life and livelihood Scudero just got on with the business of performing, and recording himself and others quietly, professionally and with great sensitivity.
I first met Scudero, who died earlier this month at the age of 59, on a rainy day five or six years ago in his Kiryat Yovel apartment in Jerusalem before he relocated to Karkur. I spent several hours in his company and was enthralled by his stories and, more so, by the way he retold them. But, then, Scudero was a storyteller par excellence.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York Scudero started his performing career in Greenwich Village in 1962. This was the heyday of the folk scene when the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were springing thought-provoking lyrics on an unsuspecting but thirsty public, and the spirit of those artistically formative years was to leave a telling imprint on Scudero's life and work.
I was also struck by Scudero's inquisitive mind. He had put together a home studio with his own bare hands and, besides writing and performing his own material, had devoted much of his time investigating, and mastering, the mysteries of electronics, physics, acoustics, fluid dynamics and sound engineering. He very much gave the image of a free-spirited man who pursued his own truth in his own way.
Scudero was also a very generous man as any of the artists who recorded at his studio, such as singer-songwriter Rahel Jaskow, would attest. His popularity, both as an artist and a person, was highly evident at the Jacob's Ladder Festival a couple of years ago where he perform along with his wife Joanna to an ecstatic audience. Sadly Joanna and Ray were not to have many years together, and he expresses his joy at finally finding a soul mate in one of dozens of songs he wrote, All The Way to The Rocking Chair:
I've lived alone most all my life,
Never thought I'd find a wife.
My single days have been something less than free.
Now maybe I can find someone
To be with when the day is done
And go all the way to the rocking chair with me.