Sixty-four-years old isn't exactly elderly, and I had seen David Lescht around town on many recent occasions, so the news of his death late last week was hard for me to fathom.
After the initial shock wore off, I began to feel guilty. My final interaction with Lescht hadn't been great—I'd said something kind of bitchy to him on Facebook. But then I recalled his reaction to my comment, and my guilt let up a bit. "We love you, Alex," he had said. With four words, Lescht had disarmed a potentially volatile situation, and shown he was the type of person who actually cared, even for someone who was being a jerk.
I will remember David Lescht as a gracious and loving gentleman who worked hard to better the lives of anyone he could. His brand of genuine interest is all too rare, and the loss of David Lescht is sure to be felt for many years to come.
To many, Lescht was best known as the driving force behind the annual summertime Santa Fe Bandstand series. To many others, however, he was the compassionate founder of Outside In Productions, a nonprofit organization devoted to bringing music to people in prison. Lescht worked tirelessly with musicians, local and beyond, to provide poor locked-up souls with entertainment, as well as art and music instruction. The program shows people that the world has not given up on them, and that art/music has the power to uplift, unite and change lives.
"David wanted to bring these people a little light and make their time in jail a little more bearable," longtime Lescht friend, local musician and bandstand co-organizer Margaret Burke says.
Burke has been involved with the Santa Fe Bandstand since its inception in 2003. Her many contributions include sifting through the plethora of bands that vie for timeslots during the series. Despite a general feeling of sadness and uncertainty surrounding the future of the Bandstand, Burke assures me that the upcoming 10th anniversary series is a definite go.
"David had already worked out all the funding and the sponsors and the bands," she says, "so there really isn't a whole lot left to worry about. In a way, he couldn't have had better timing."
This year's Bandstand runs for six weeks (July 5-August 16), and features the likes of Alex Maryol, Todd and the Fox, Fiddlin' Doc Gonzales, Sean Healen, John Kurzweg and many, many more. The six performances per week (four evening and two afternoon shows) represent dozens of genres. Oh, and the whole thing is totally free and totally family-appropriate, so start saving the dates now. While SFR does not have a complete lineup as of deadline, we will feature complete listings in our music calendar once they become available.
I can think of no better way to honor the memory of David Lescht than the continued support of the projects that were near and dear to his heart. While the void left by such an incredible person cannot possibly be filled, I'd be willing to bet that Lescht would rather we celebrate his positive accomplishments than dwell on his untimely passing.
And in the end, we could all follow David's example of love and understanding. "In the memorial piece Michael Franti wrote, he mentioned that David made him want to be a better person," Burke says. "I know there are a lot of people out there that feel the same way, or who have been inspired by this man who had a dream and made it happen."