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Local songwriter to pay tribute to Loomis legend

Buckman offers his look on life through music
By: Kathleen McCoy, Special to the Loomis News
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Words — they are everywhere. They are the first thing we hear when we come into this life and often the final sounds as the curtain lowers on our life for the last time. What happens to us between those words is our lifetime, our song. Our joys, sorrows, everyday frustrations and celebrations are the common threads that weave us together through our high and low notes, connecting our emotions and each other. When those notes of our lives are tailored and quilted into music by songwriters, they warm our world with a common blanket of understanding that provides us with an insight into sometimes-unspeakable emotion. The first time I heard Loomis resident Billy Buckman, I knew he was one of those tailors. His father, Morris, showed him how to sew as a young child by teaching Buckman to read the dots and bars while playing music together in the living room of their Philadelphia family home. Buckman left Philadelphia as a teenager to enlist in the Navy. He was a Vietnam-era veteran who experienced and never forgot humanity’s songs. When his Navy stint ended in 1970, Buckman dropped anchor in Sacramento near a fellow sailor and musician. In 1991, he moved to Loomis. Throughout the years, Buckman remained involved in the local music scene by playing professionally in popular dance bands but he was never the front man. That is not unlike his acoustic guitar, which he played during the years that fell between his professional gigs. When Buckman decided to sing, his guitar and voice took off on a new trajectory. At the behest of a recording engineer, Rich Ayres, Buckman began writing songs and going to open mics to build his confidence and hone his craft. Through songwriting, he began a journey to a higher level of self- expression and connection with the human experience on the paths carved out before him by Bob Dylan, Chuck Brodsky and Leonard Cohen. Buckman’s first venture into songwriting was “bluegrass blues” inspired during his visit to the annual Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival in Grass Valley. Buckman’s first CD, aptly titled “Bluegrass Blues,” was released last year. He is currently working on his second CD. Billy also stops in to play on Sunday’s open mic at Dillian’s Bar & Grill in Lincoln. Music has taken Buckman on an amazing journey, and he is paying it forward. Through teaching music, he has been attempting to work with at-risk teenage boys in a one-on-one experience and is hoping to further that endeavor. More recently, Buckman has become interested in Paul Yokote, a local hero in Loomis who died in 1996. Paul was a Japanese American who was stricken with polio and spent years in an internment camp during World War II. Yokote later used his experiences to effect positive change in his own quietly profound way. Yokote mentored teen-agers and his downtown home, which became known as Paul’s Place. From his wheelchair, Yokote also photographed for sporting events at Del Oro High School and other community events. Buckman is writing a song about Yokote and is interested in talking to individuals whose lives were touched by Yokote and Paul’s Place. Contact Buckman via his Web site at www.billybuckman.com.