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Santa Rosa musician Patrick Newman dies

Friday, March 16th, 2012 | Posted by

Patrick Newman, a Santa Rosa-born harmonica player popular with blues aficionados since he appeared on the scene 40 years ago with his first band, Skeeball Jacobs, has died at age 59.

Patrick Newman.

Newman performed with myriad bands, including The Rough Mix, which filled Cotati’s Tradewinds tavern every Saturday night for years in the mid-1980s.

He was diagnosed with liver cancer about a month ago. He died Monday at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Newman played the harp off and on for decades with drummer and radio DJ Steve Jaxon, a lifelong friend.

“He was also an amazing singer,” Jaxon said. “One of his heroes was Paul Butterfield, and he played and sang just like him.”

The pair’s latest band called itself The Steve Jaxon Drive when it played a gig at Sebastopol’s Hopmonk Tavern two years ago.

“He was just a fun-loving, very sweet man and a great musician,” Jaxon said.

Ex-wife and longtime friend Ingrid Newman of Santa Rosa recalled the first time she saw him — at a Cotati Accordion Festival in the mid-1980s.

She asked a friend, “Who’s that?” The friend replied, “Oh, that’s Pat Newman.”

“It was on from there,” Ingrid Newman said. “I fell in love with him that first time I saw him. He had charisma that was just unbelievable.”

She said Newman worked for many years as a house painter and took up his harmonica once his day’s work was done.

The music “was who he was,” she said. “It was in his veins.

“He couldn’t read music, or very little. But he could play it.”

The couple had one child, Alex, who was born in 1991. They divorced 15 years ago. Patrick Newman later remarried. He and his wife, Janet Newman of Novato, have a daughter, Cassidy, who’s 10.

In addition to his music and his family, Newman savored fishing at the Sonoma Coast, watching birds of prey and reading World War II history.

“Also, he was a Three Stooges fanatic,” Ingrid Newman said.

A date for a celebration of his life has yet to be set.

— Chris Smith

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  • Skippy

    Pat was one of the many great harp players that have called Sonoma Co. home. He had talent and taste far above most of us. I was proud to call him a friend for 36 years. Always kind and with no detectable musician’s ego, Pat was a joy to play with and listen to. We shall not see his kind again soon.
    Frater, ave atque vale.
    Vaya con Dios.

  • Debra Tsouprake

    I met Pat when I moved up from Marin in the early 80’s close friend of Paul Butterfield. I was Patricks biggest groupee following the Newman Blues Band evverywhere on the music scene! My Prayers go out to all our friends and family for Pat will truly be missed! <3

  • Bruce Bergen

    Very nice piece. Nice to see Pat recognized. He and I used to watch the Three Stooges often together, late at night, and used to imitate their routines and classic lines. We had many “nyuks” together. Always a kind and funny man.
    One correction, the Cotati Accordian Festival began, I believe, in 1991. The only reason I know is because I played it with another dear departed friend, Jim Boggio. Rest in peace, my old friends.

  • Beverly

    OMG – I’m late to the news. Moving back out from Texas and wanted to look up one of my early loves and very good friend from the Skeeball Jacob days. I am^ filled with sadness and sorry to see he lost his lifelong battle. He was a fun and sweet person and I’m so sorry I won’t see him again on this side. Guess I’ll have to wait to reunite with a bud. Quick story – we were in Santa Cruz at a Butterfield Blues Band show. I went to talk to to Paul at the bar and to introduce him to Pat but Pat was too blown away to come meet him – it was very cute. Many the times I saw Pat join Charlie Musslewhite & his band and Charlie was always blown away!

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