By Mike Casey
Some people make their mark in the world taking stage and craving the limelight. Others do it by showing up. Bill Cutler spent a lifetime doing the latter. He was as ubiquitous as anyone I have ever known in the Irish and folk community. Our friend left us in May at age 73, after a long battle with cancer.
I first met Bill some 30-odd years ago, sharing volunteer shifts for dances at the Half Time Rec. This would prove to be just one of a long line of volunteer gigs where he left his footprint, including The Minnesota Folk Festival, The Cedar Cultural Center, Irish Fair of Minnesota, The Irish Music and Dance Association, or wherever else he was needed. My wife, Jan, would say that whenever IMDA needed someone to cover their table at Irish Fair, he would be the one to show up. Though small in stature, his passion and dedication to the music was monolithic.
Bill was a musician and songwriter, as well as a singer with a fine voice. I would often run into him at concerts and song sessions all over town. He also would frequently be one of a number of musicians who would form part of a pick-up band at the Dubliner or the Oddfellow’s club playing for céilís. When I would thank him later when it was over, he would always say, “Oh, it’s fun playing for dancers”.
Many songs are written about people going to heaven in their dreams and attending concerts of great artists now gone. If this should happen to you, keep an eye out for Bill. Chances are that he will be the little guy with a smile, there to take your ticket.
Mike Casey is a lover of folk and Irish music and a long-time volunteer with IMDA and Irish Fair of Minnesota as well as several other local groups devoted to folk and traditional music.