Memories of Mimi Fariņa

Mimi and Tom
By David Hartzheim.

I was very influenced by Richard Farina and took up the dulcimer because of hearing him (although my main instrument has always been harmonica). I was in a band in the '60s and '70s called Massive Ferguson, an eclectic trio, then quartet, sort of the grandfathers of The Cowboy Junkies, with some Hank Williams, Farina, and Americanized Fairport Convention thrown in to totally confuse audiences (except our following) and certainly music critics and record labels (we were never signed).

Massive Ferguson opened for Mimi and Tom Jans at the Ash Grove gig in LA in 1970. There were 3 more gigs we did together on that "tour"-- all promoted by Jim Jenkins, the owner of a now-long gone folk club in San Clemente, CA called The Four Muses. Jim Jenkins provided beachside apartments for my band and Mimi and Tom during this brief "tour" period. Of course we played there at The Four Muses, then at an equally obscure club now gone called In The Alley in Escondito, CA. The last gig we did with Mimi and Tom was at The Back Door, a coffee house on the UC campus in San Diego, where Massive Ferguson often opened for Ian Matthews, Eric Anderson and others. I was in the hospital when Massive Ferguson started the gig at the Ash Grove. The other band members knew what a crush I'd always had on Mimi and dared me to survive so I could make it to the last night of the gig, which I did.

I met her briefly after our first sets and we all agreed to jam on an instrumental journey beginning with Old Joe Clark (as you know, this had been part of the Celebration For A Grey Day instrumental). I'm not sure, but I doubt Mimi (who played right next to me and my dulcimer) had played material she'd played with Richard with the same instruments since his death. We were joined by Bruce Langhorn who arrive almost as smashed as did "new discovery" Kris Kristofferson direct from his SRO debut gig at the Troubador in Hollywood. We played a long time, Tom, Mimi and the lead instrumentalist in our band, Steve van Gelder, taking improvised solos, Mimi in a dropped-D tuning. When we began to resolve the jam by returning to the Old Joe Clark theme, Mimi suddenly became overwhelmed and tears poured down her cheeks. She smiled through the tears and gently held up her hands to end the jam to a wonderful reception by the audience. Tom helped her off stage. And Kristofferson, wobbling drunk as he was put a hand softly on my shoulder, somehow knowing that I felt bad for having brought back sad memories. I looked up at him and his face, so young then but still that of an old soul, told me it was okay, that when she smiled as we were all going full steam, it was catharsis, and so were the tears. No fault. I'll never forget that night.