The first was Friday night. Houston Caldwell was widely regarded as one of the hottest, young banjo players around. At age eighteen, he had twice placed in the top four banjo players at the Old Fiddlers Convention and had become a fixture on the music scene, usually performing with his band Broken Wire.
He also was beginning to serve his nation. He'd recently completed basic training for the Army Reserve, and according to The Bluegrass Blog, he celebrated by buying a motorcycle. While out for a ride last weekend, he passed a vehicle and as he was returning to his lane, he was clipped by an oncoming car. He died at the scene.
Alan Mastin was the second loss. A well known bassist, he had just finished playing with his band, Big Country Bluegrass, at a music festival near his home in Southwest Virginia. BCB banjo picker Lynwood Lunsford explained on The Bluegrass Blog that several band members rode to the show together. They grabbed a bite to eat afterward and then returned around 3 a.m. on Sunday to pick up their cars. Lunsford says that Alan put his base in his van, and then "made a comment about how good the breeze felt to him. He then got in his vehicle and headed towards home.”
The next morning Alan’s wife, Glenda, woke to find that her husband never made it. After contacting band mates, she began driving the roads he travelled. She spotted his van down an embankment in a brush pile. Alan’s body was slumped over inside. Paramedics speculated that he suffered a heart attack or stroke while driving.
On Facebook, fans are sharing condolences for both Houston and Alan's loved ones:
Ron Block wrote, "Houston, you are one of the most respectful, helpful, and talented young people I've ever met. Everyone is sorry you had to leave this world for eternity so soon; I know you're up there saying, 'Yes sir,' and 'Can I help you with that?'."
Anita Poplin writes for Alan, "I cannot do my work today. My heart is filled with yesterday."
If you're feeling for the friends and families of these artists, consider posting. I bet they'd be touched by your words of comfort.