Sidney Tapscott

July 18th, 2012 · 3 Comments · By

Sidney Tapscott has passed away. Sidney was a part of Charlottesville for longer than anyone reading this could possibly remember. Everyone has their own stories about Sidney — I first encountered him via the Blue Moon Diner, when I used to eat there as a child in the late-80’s/early-90’s. That was 2 or 3 Blue Moon Diners ago — when Laura and Rice re-opened the place, Sidney came with it. He had a monogrammed barstool and everything (one of only two people to receive that honor), and he was still a regular there until his failing health prevented him from coming, but as recently as a year ago, the 89-year old was walking himself there every afternoon.  He was also a regular fixture at Miller’s throughout the 90’s, and often played with the Hogwaller Rambers as an opening act or a sideman. Sidney was a man who had a difficult life, and I’ve always been really touched by the way that the Charlottesville community shared the task of trying to take care of him, even when he could be a kinda difficult, or completely unintelligible.

Waldo at Cvillenews, from whom I first heard the news, wrote:

“Downtown fixture Sidney Tapscott has died. The sweet, cheerful 89-year-old was adopted many years ago by downtown regulars, and passed away yesterday in hospice. During the eighties and nineties he could be seen around the Downtown Mall with a push broom, wearing overalls and bearing a red bandana. The Albemarle native smoked a pipe, played the harmonica, and was the Hogwaller Ramblers’ number-one fan. (Their album opens with him singing, and then introducing “the Tennessee Ramblers.) The Blue Moon Diner—his home away from home—held a big birthday party for him every year. For photos and remembrances, see the Friends of Sidney Tapscott Facebook group, which has almost 1,500 members after just one day of existence.”

Patrick A Reed sent me the following remarks:

“The immortal Sidney Tapscott passed away today, at the the ripe old age of ‘as long as anyone can remember (and even before)’. He leaves behind a cultural and musical legacy that’s unquantifiable by any conventional means, one that can only be measured in intangibles: handshakes, laughs, broomsticks, uncomfortable moments, waves, hugs, rolled eyes, root beers and iced teas, harmonica solos, friends. He could play one song a million ways, and give it a million different titles. He did his own things in his own way, and was loved for it. He was impossible to miss, and now it’s impossible not to miss him.”

Bill Hunt adds:

“There’s also a fundraiser to try and cover the cost of his burial and funeral service – his plot is paid for, but nothing else is. There’s a donation jar at Blue Moon Diner for interested parties.”

I’m sitting in the Diner write now as I write this, and that jar has a generous amount in it… but not enough to pay for a funeral. Stop by and help out an old friend.

Tags: charlottesville · news

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Jul 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    in the interest of Charlottesville music history, I should correct Waldo’s claim above — Sidney actually begins the Hogwaller Ramblers album with a harmonica solo, before introducing them as “Lady and Gentleman, the Tennesee Rambler.” He does sing somewhere on the album, though — a bonus track, I think?

  • 2 James // Jul 18, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    does anyone have an image of Sidney they’d be OK with letting me use in the post here?

  • 3 "Lydio" // Jul 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Matt, I was actually holding Sid’s hand when he died. There is a wonderful group page w stories… Over 1570 followers. Lots of old friends. Funeral Saturday 11am graveside, Scottsville cemetery. Hogwallers will eulogize, me too I think. Procession at 10 from Blue Moon. Wake there after. Love.