Roger Alan Deitz, September 17, 1949 – December 17, 2023

My father was seventeen years old when he got a chance to play trumpet with Rudy Vallée at the Brooklyn Paramount, just as The Great Depression was, well, depressing. My lovely mother a mere lass of fifteen waited at the stage door to meet this handsome talented Brooklyn-born new member of the Connecticut Yankees. Morris (Larry) and Sophie (Sonnie) loved music, they loved each other, and rumor has it they loved me. As a youngster I was told that if I practiced diligently I could get to Carnegie Hall. Well the old joke aside, I got to Carnegie Hall, usually to listen to performers and friends I knew or wrote about… so technically, the old saw came to pass. Tom Goodkin of the Washington Squares did announce from the venerable stage that I taught him a “great new banjo lick” which he played as the crowd applauded. My first ovation at Carnegie Hall. And my last ovation at Carnegie Hall. They were opening for Richie Havens a year or two before I had that opportunity. On national television John McEuen of The Dirt Band (while recounting a story of our meeting) mentioned me on Nashville Now, not by name, but as “the guy from the magazine.” All of this is close enough for folk. I have performed for crowds as large as ten thousand and written articles and columns for “audiences” at least as large. Through it all, I made it a point to dissuade any and all fifteen-year-old groupies hanging out at the stage door. Still – I write, I perform. And, yes, I play accordion. Few know the sound of that particular treat. Welcome to this web site. I hope you enjoy. Mom and Dad would have been proud, Lawrence Welk somewhat less so. In the words of Rudy Vallée, “My Time Is Your Time.”

– Be well, The guy from the magazine; Roger Deitz

A present to The Folk Music Community
on Pete Seeger’s Birthday
(May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)

15 Years of RagTag

It’s been three years since the publication in book form of 15 Years of RagTag – a collection of essays and columns originally appearing in Sing Out! Magazine between 1995 and 2010, written by Roger Deitz and illustrated by Ed Courrier.

While print books remain, and certainly digital books could yet be sold, Ed and I have made the judgment to share our collaboration of these 56 columns with our community. And to let fly on Pete Seeger’s birthday, as a nod to the inspiring musician and activist we knew and admired.

This in tribute to Seeger, and to Sing Out! Magazine, founded in 1950 by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson and a host of others. Sing Out!, where editor Mark Moss encouraged me to write these columns and features, and Ed to illustrate them. Art and Commerce. In a world where the line is often blurred, it is better to be read than on the remainder table. No puns intended.

Enjoy, and thank you for reading! Please share the book with your friends.

Download your copy here.  Happy Reading!

From ace music journalist Roger Deitz, (tagged by Billy Edd Wheeler; “The Shakespeare of Sing Out! columnists”) comes 15 Years of RagTag illustrated by Ed Courrier. A book so bold it dares to blow the lid off the contemporary acoustic music scene. 15 years of great humor writing with 56 collected RagTag columns from Sing Out! containing a few of folk’s dirty little secrets and a tomato crate of commentary and laughs. A primer for teaching everything you need to know about the lighter (and darker) side of folk music matters.
From the Sing Out! website, a tribute by Mark Moss
Tribute for Roger’s Memorial on May 14, 2024

Beloved by so many, Roger was the best friend of more people than anyone else I’ve ever known. He had a gentle, wise, and caring way about him that made him feel like family. He was the master of the witty comment or the humorous story and a wonderful conversationalist.

Around 2006, I offered to build a website for Roger. After considering it for a bit, he agreed, and we built his website together. As you can imagine, there was no dearth of wonderful copy and a most amazing and captivating photo collection that provided plenty of material for the website. Roger offered a color palette and guidance on pages and placements. What a wonderful person to build a website for!

Running for almost 20 years now, that old site was holding by a thread, and I think Roger was the thread that kept it running. Just a few weeks ago, the website ended up in quarantine and it was time to finally update it or let it go. I am not inclined to let it go, just as I am yet incapable of letting Roger go. Knowing he is free of sparkles, discomfort, and a failing heart is the only consolation. With so many best friends to hold him, may his memory continue as a blessing to all of us.

In recent years, Roger made sure to remember the birthdays and anniversaries of so many other folk music luminaries. He kept alive the memories of others, and now is our turn to remember him as well. Oddly, this memorial event by his dear friend Rick Ilowite seems to be the only one offered so far, and I am grateful for this assemblage today.

Several years ago, Roger commemorated the birthday of the late Pete Seeger by offering a collection of his RagTag columns for Sing Out! Magazine written by Roger and illustrated by his dear friend Ed Courrier, a genius of an artist and cartoonist. You can download a copy of this 64-page PDF at Roger’s new website at the same old URL, Roger’s color palette and all the writings and wonderful photos are still presented there with a brand new website foundation. I think Roger would approve of it.

As Roger would say, Be well,

Sue Deckhart