I felt compelled to create a music video tribute to my dear friend Michael Olk, mainly because I wasn’t through with him yet.
I began writing the lyrics to this song literally minutes after I learned Thursday morning that Mike had finally died from the stroke he suffered one week ago today, on June 1. It was a way of coping, I guess. I only put the words to music and recorded it Saturday, then got busy compiling a video presentation.
I could have done a more full and clean arrangement of the song, I suppose, with bass, drums, more carefully enunciated lyrics and whatnot. But I wanted to capture the immediacy of what felt in the moment.
Turns out what I was feeling had a bit of a Dave Mason vibe. I think I can live with that.
We love you so much, Michael Olk.
“Michael,” words and music by Kevin Featherly, performed by Kevin Featherly. © 2014 Kevin Featherly.
Michael Olk died Wednesday—almost precisely 24 hours ago at this writing—from a massive stroke.
The brain infarction hit him at roughly 4:30 a.m. on June 1, 2014, while he was being treated at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn., and it shut down all activity on the affected side of his brain, leaving him unresponsive and comatose. The stroke undoubtedly was a complication from the esophogeal cancer that had already been determined to be terminal.
He lingered until last night. Mike’s death this week, in effect, prevents what would almost certainly have been long, slow slide toward death in hospice care from terminal cancer.
The clip posted above was captured at the Olk Aid benefit at Lee’s Liquor Lounge on Dec. 7, 2013, an event that, coupled with an online donations effort organized by David Wildermuth, raised nearly $5,000 for Mike’s care. In the video, Michael thanks all his friends for their money, love and support.
While he speaks in this segment directly to the people in the room with him, I think it is safe to say that his very loving sentiment would extend to all of his friends and family, whether they were part of Olk Aid or not. Michael had a wide support network, a huge circle of people who loved him.
That is just one measure of the remarkable the life that this man lived.
O brother, sleep ye well.
Michael Olk (1960-2014)
My mini-documentary on Adam Levy’s cover band par excellence, H&B, is live online. Big ups to Mike Olk’s magic camera.
The video was made on a very cold night, March 1, 2014, at the Crooked Pint in downtown Minneapolis. It goes a long way toward portraying the combination of musical competence and personal eccentricity that makes H&B a stunning musical experience. Yes, it’s a cover band, which is odd indeed, given that it contains one of the finest songwriters the Twin Cities has ever produced. But you will never see a better cover band.
Need proof? Here you go:
Mark Siegel, state planning director for the Department of Human Services’ health care reform implementation team, is one of Minnesota’s key behind-the-scenes players in the rollout of Obamacare. He has also overcome a body that will not cooperate with his mind to become a hipster, writer and logician who runs one of the most in-demand book clubs in the Twin Cities. A remarkable man. Photo by Kevin Featherly.
Mark Siegel was given permission to reprint my profile on him for Capitol Report/Politics in Minnesota on his blog, The 19th Floor. Otherwise, it would languish beneath the newspaper’s formidable paywall.
Thought I’d share here what Mark has been permitted to share. It’s the tale of just about the most remarkable man you are ever likely to meet.
Read on: “Mark Siegel: Refusing to be Stopped.”