Musicians and community come together to remember beloved Gardiner’s late councilman

People dance along the Kennebec River in Gardiner on Sunday during LoganFest, a gathering to celebrate the life of Robert “Logan” Johnston of Gardiner, who died May 22 after a life spent supporting his community, agriculture and the arts. Several bands and musicians performed at the confluence of Cobbossee Stream and the Kennebec River for hundreds of people who turned out to remember Johnston, who died at 69. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER – Robert “Logan” Johnston has been described many ways: Gardiner town councilor who has served many organizations and on multiple boards, extremely tall, great sense of humor and Monty Python fan, farmer and member longtime member of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Board of Directors. and guitarist who loved the Grateful Dead and followed the band on tour.

But above all, Johnston, who died on May 22 of an apparent heart attack at 69, was a compassionate man who cared deeply about helping others, according to those who knew him.

Many of the people he influenced, mentored and influenced gathered Sunday for LoganFest, a celebration of his life, at Gardiner. The event was mainly organized by her son, Philip Johnston, and Christine Poulson, a local musician who said she met Logan Johnston in 2008 when he started attending his Sunday jams at HydeOut at the Wharf in Hallowell.

“That’s what we do when we lose someone,” Poulson said.

People gather along the Kennebec River in Gardiner on Sunday during LoganFest, a gathering to celebrate the life of Robert “Logan” Johnston of Gardiner, who died May 22 after a life spent supporting his community, agriculture and the arts . Several bands and musicians performed at the confluence of Cobbossee Stream and the Kennebec River for hundreds of people who turned out to remember Johnston, who died at 69. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Poulson not only contacted the participating musicians, but also coordinated their performances.

She compared the experience to cooking a meal.

“I like to call them pies. Pies from Mrs. Poulson,” she said. “My job is to lay out a foundation and then bring in players like Pat Pepin and Jimmy Midnight, and those people who are great solo performers, with a great backline. They’re leading the charge, but they’ve got this really great rhythm section behind them.

The work is reminiscent of what Poulson did every week at HydeOut at the Wharf.

She said her first impression of him was that he was an “imposing individual” who was calm, friendly and enthusiastic. She said a music-filled festival was a great way for those who knew and loved Johnston to celebrate his life.

Philip Johnston said he and his father’s other loved ones decided to hold a service shortly after Logan Johnston’s death and then come together later in the year to celebrate life.

Philip Johnston said he and some of his father’s friends threw a surprise party at Johnson Hall in Gardiner for Logan’s 60th birthday – a private “surprise jam” with his musician friends.

The surprise party took place ten years ago. Logan Johnston would have turned 70 on Monday.

Adults and children sway to music played along the Kennebec River in Gardiner on Sunday during LoganFest, a gathering to celebrate the life of Robert “Logan” Johnston of Gardiner, who died May 22 after a life spent supporting his community , agriculture and the arts. Several bands and musicians performed at the confluence of Cobbossee Stream and the Kennebec River for hundreds of people who turned out to remember Johnston, who died at 69. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Since his father was a well-known member of the community, Philip Johnston said it was not difficult to get musicians and others together to celebrate Logan Johnston’s life.

Joshua Robbins, a bassist who performed at Sunday’s rally, described Logan Johnston as a “mentor” he had known for two decades – as a fellow musician and man he worked with at Oaklands Farm, whom Johnston and his wife operated in Gardiner. .

“We basically worked side by side every day, and it was an amazing time to get to know the man,” Robbins said. “He was just a really amazing human being, a great mentor and a great friend.”

Robbins said an event at Gardiner with dozens of Johnston’s fellow musicians would have meant a lot to him.

“He doesn’t have to chase cows today,” Robbins said. “He can listen to music, somewhere, from his hometown.”


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Sam D. Gomez