News Feature

Penobscot
Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 22, 2014
Penobscot community sings its farewell to Skip Bean

Skip Bean takes the stage

Skip Bean performs at his last Coffee House and Music Buffet held at the Penobscot Community School in Penobscot, Maine on May 17, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

How long does it take to grow roots in a community? For Skip Bean, who moved here 10 years ago and built a house—and a life—in Penobscot with his wife Jill, those roots grew fast and deep.

Bean has worked at Penobscot Community School for a decade, keeping its halls and classrooms shining as only a perfectionist—in the words of Principal Allen Cole—can.

“Monday is going to be a different kind of day at Penobscot Community School,” Cole said.

Bean’s last day was May 16, one day before the school community, and musicians from Stonington to Bucksport, all regulars at a monthly coffee house Bean began four years ago, gathered to say goodbye.

First came a potluck supper organized by the PTF, and a video of students singing “Happy Trails.” Then, a slate of local musicians and bands performed in a corner in the gym, forgoing the auditorium stage for a more intimate, coffeehouse-style setting.

Bean started the monthly Penobscot Coffee House and Music Buffet for selfish reasons, he said.

“I signed on…so I would have a chance to play a few songs once a month,” he said, with “no intentions of being philanthropic.” Then, “the crazy thing took off.”

After four years of guiding, organizing and hosting the coffee house, which features one hour of open mike and one hour of a local, featured performer, Bean said, “I appreciate the power of music more than ever.”

“It’s opened my heart quite a bit.”

As Bean answers a few questions in a quiet classroom, teachers, former students and parents interrupt to give hugs and goodbyes.

Bean and his wife Jill will return to Idaho, the place they left 10 years earlier, in early June.

“[Skip] has been inspirational to the community and the music buffet,” said Mike Fay, who will preside over the coffee house with Lin Parker in Skip’s absence.

“It’s a long way to Idaho,” Parker said.

But the “heart and the music” Bean and wife Jill have given, said Fay, will remain.

Skip Bean takes the stage

Skip Bean performs at his last Coffee House and Music Buffet held at the Penobscot Community School in Penobscot, Maine on May 17, 2014.

Photo by Anne Berleant
The Loose Cannon Jug Band performs

The Loose Cannon Jug Band, coffee house regulars, take to the makeshift stage in the Penobscot, Maine school gym on Saturday, May 17, 2014 to bid farewell to Skip Bean. From left, is Scott Howell, Daniel Huisjen, Nicolas Lindholm, and David Stearns. In the back, Ian Howell sits in on kazoo, with Duncan Howell (not shown) on the spoons.

Photo by Anne Berleant
An a capella fare-thee-well for Skip Bean

Sonia Turanski, of Penobscot, Maine performs a capella while the crowd keeps time by snapping fingers. She performed at the elementary school at a special goodbye to school employee and Penobscot Coffee House and Music Buffet founder Skip Bean.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Skip and Jill Bean

Skip and Jill Bean gave “heart and music” to the Penobscot, Maine community, said Mike Fay, a regular at the Penobscot Coffee House and Music Buffet founded by Skip Bean four years ago.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Penobscot Principal bids farewell to long-time employee

“Mr. Bean is too nice of a guy to roast,” said Principal Allen Cole, who proceeded, gently, to do so, at a pot luck and musical event on May 14, 2014 at the Penobscot Community School in Maine.

Photo by Anne Berleant