July 6, 2020

Then I Met Noel Paul Stookey

Noel Paul Stookey signed my notepad and added a heart.

Janine Pineo Photo | Noel Paul Stookey signed my notepad and added a heart.

Sarah Coale Photo | Noel Paul Stookey

Sarah Coale Photo | Noel Paul Stookey

• By Janine Pineo •

Ever start a day thinking I am going to do this, this and then this?

And then “this” becomes a whoa-Noel-Paul-Stookey-what-just-happened moment?

That was my Wednesday.

It started off normally for me, in a rush to get going. I had an appointment, another appointment and one last thing to do before I could head home.

Instead of one last thing, I met Noel Paul Stookey.

I felt my phone vibrate as I was on my way to the one last thing. It was my friend, David, who wanted to know where I was. After I told him, he asked if I would like to meet him at the Bangor Opera House for the taping of The Nite Show with Danny Cashman. David waxed on about the show and then dangled the carrot that made me turn around and head back to Bangor: Noel Paul Stookey was going to be there and David was scheduled to meet him afterward.

What ensued was three hours of taping several shows. I suppose one should really call it recording, but I am enough of a geezer to call it taping. There was music, comedy bits, set changes, clapping, more music, more bits, more changes, more clapping, and then David spotted Mr. Stookey standing at the top of the stairs, cradling his guitar and watching the stage.

Some of you may be saying, “Who?”

That is a legitimate question. Mr. Stookey is not necessarily known by his full moniker. He is best known by only part of it and as part of a group which rightly deserves such encomiums that include the words legendary and iconic.

Singer and songwriter, Mr. Stookey is the Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary, an integral part of a musical and national revolution during the 1960s that I cannot begin to quantify in a post on this site.

I grew up hearing their songs, perhaps the most recognizable being “Puff the Magic Dragon.” To call it folk music is to put a label on something to make people comfortable. And for me, after attending the annual folk festival in Bangor every year since it began, I think it is simply music that embraces humanity.

Mr. Stookey is a prolific songwriter. His most famous may be “The Wedding Song.” He talked about that one, mentioning the copyright on it is with the Public Domain Foundation, where the money goes to charities.

I was enchanted by the engaging Mr. Stookey. He is good guest, a funny storyteller and a wicked mimicker. I sincerely hope all his conversation is on the show airing Nov. 23, 2013, on WABI-TV.

Noel Paul Stookey on stage with Danny Cashman during the Nov. 13 taping of The Nite Show at the Bangor Opera House.

Janine Pineo Photo | Noel Paul Stookey on stage with Danny Cashman during the Nov. 13 taping of The Nite Show at the Bangor Opera House.

He sang two songs, one quiet, one a bit more rollicking, both with lyrics that make you think and feel and be.

After a prolonged standing ovation, Mr. Stookey made his way out and I urged David to go catch up with him, dithering whether I should intrude.

I dithered right into intrude and followed a few moments later. A steady stream of people wanted to thank the man, and I finally had a moment to say I was with David.

Mr. Stookey took my hand, shook it, and with a firm grasp held onto me as he asked if I would be joining them for a beer.

I declined – yes, I declined going out with Noel Paul Stookey, foolish me – but I did persist in intruding until we made it out onto the sidewalk where I asked for an autograph.

Mr. Stookey fished a pen out of his pocket and scribbled out a signature. Then he leaned close and asked if he could make it out to me. I gave him my name, spelling it for him. He glanced up at me and with a twinkle in his eyes said something along the lines of “and with a little heart” before drawing a wee heart over my name.

Then he and David were racing across Main Street to chase down a beer.

I had my heart.


You may be thinking what does any of this have to do with anything on Garden Maine.

I thought about that. And I have my answer.

Having songwriters who examine their souls is important. It is part of the beauty of music.

It is also the beauty of the human experience.

And that is why I am here, doing what I am doing in my small way on GardenMaine.com. The gardening and the farming may be the hook, but for me, it is more about sharing the beauty of life in Maine and the wonder of being part of humanity from such a blessed place.

Also, I sat there wondering during the taping of the show whether Mr. Stookey and his wife had a garden at their Blue Hill home.

Yes, I cannot stop the siren call of plants.

Noel Paul Stookey is the guest on The Nite Show with Danny Cashman at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, on WABI-TV. Click here for more information.