Foster Wiley - The memorial
It's hard to write something that can briefly describe who Mr. Tater was, because you really had to meet him in real life to fully appreciate him. I can say that we used to hang out almost every single day, and I honestly really loved him. Still do. Once, someone forgot to lock the door of the studio. Tater would always check the door on his rounds around Clarksdale. When he saw it was unlocked, he stood in the doorway all night to make sure no one broke in. That's the kind of guy he was.
He was an extremely sweet man. It's easy to forget how tough his life was, and how cruel some people were to him. But he didn't let that color the way he looked at the world. "I don't show my attitude" was something he would say. That's good advice, sometimes I have to let Tater remind me of that.
It was amusing watching people meet Tater for the first time, because his stammer and accent made it hard for new friends to understand what he was saying. It was magical, because I knew that these people would first be completely confused and maybe intimidated by him, but soon they would be won over by his overwhelmingly positive attitude and friendliness. He put out that vibe so hard, even if you couldn't understand almost anything he was saying.
I named the band after my friend while he was still alive, but ailing. When I got the call in the late summer of 2010 that he was in the hospital, I drove all day from North Carolina back to Mississippi to visit him in the ICU. I stayed with him for a few days, but he never woke up. I returned to North Carolina, where I was working as an elementary school music teacher. I was sitting at my piano, waiting for a class, when I received a text message letting me know that Tater had just passed. Just then, the door opened, and twenty 5-year olds walked into my classroom. I put down my phone, looked at them, and said, "All right... let's do the Hokey Pokey."
Life goes on, but I think about Mr. Tater every day. We called each other "soul brother".
This band is a tribute to my friend's spirit and music.
- Summer 2015