Tugboat Willy Lipe plays his final tune
Editor’s Note: Cathe Steele is owner and founder of the renowned Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm music venue in Silverhill. Willie Lipe, Tugboat Willie to most, also sold delicious hotdogs from a cart at the corner of Cty. Rd. 65/Cty. Rd. 10.He passed away on Jan. 5.
By Cathe Steele
The first time I ever saw Tugboat Willy Lipe was almost 30 years ago. He was throwing a kicking and screaming woman named Lillian into Roberts Bayou from off the bow of his schooner, The Shawnee.
I’d come down to Pirates Cove to go sailing with some friends that day, and little did I know, the next two years of my life would be the beginning of my musical roots, fertilized by Tugboat Willy Lipe, Jerry Trapp, Luther Wamble and a young Guthrie Trapp with a new guitar.
That first summer Willy baptized me in the songs of Guy Clark, Mickey Newbury, Robert Johnson, Jimmy Louis, Billy Stone, Hank Williams and so many more. I was immersed in the sight and sounds of Guthrie Trapp and Luther Wamble playing face to face, while watching Luther, Tugboat and Jerry become each a piece of the foundation of the guitar player that Guthrie would become.
There’s so much to remember, too much to ever forget about Willy…The summer that he plotted a course for the very first Wooden Boat Show at Pirates Cove. The summer of a packed out deck during the day and moonlight sails all night. The sight of Willy headed to the boat yard in his colorful knitted hats, flip-flops and hawaiian shirts flapping in the wind, singing a new song along the way.
Willy could tell a story and make you see it clear as day, played out right in front of your minds eye. It was all about the song, about the sound, about the words and the story that came straight from Tugboats heart when he sang it.
Some of the very best memories of my life come from knowing Willy Lipe, and I will miss him ‘til the very end of mine. Rest in Peace my friend. Fair winds and a safe voyage to the other side Tugboat.
‘Til we meet again…