We had an impromptu visit from the famous world class violist, Richard Yongjae O’Neill (pictured inset, richard-oneill.com) Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Wet Dog Cafe,” proud adoptive stepdad Bill Sutton, pictured left, wrote. Richard’s mother is Colleen O’Neill, pictured right. The musician, who arrived with a film crew, “is on a mission to make a documentary on behalf of under-privileged children around the world,” Bill revealed.
And what a surprise he brought with him. Richard and his camera crew arrived in a new Volkswagen Passat, which turned out to be a gift for his mother and Bill.
“After Richard and crew freshened up from a long trip from South Korea, they arrived at the Wet Dog jam where I play trombone with All That Jazz every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.,” Bill reported, “working with the Wet Dog to raise scholarship money for Clatsop County’s up-and-coming musicians. Lee Stromquist turned his piano over to me, and kicked back with the rest of the band to listen to Richard perform. Dave Graves stayed on the bandstand and played drums with us.”
“After the jam,” he continued, “Richard (who loves to cook when he has time for it) went to work in our apartment making gourmet ground turkey meatballs and pasta for family and camera crew. But not before he and I played some more music together.”
In the next two days, Richard and the crew took Colleen to Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Quilcene, Washington, to visit his birthplace, and reunite with his first violin teacher, then Richard flew to New York to play at the Lincoln Center.
The camera crew filmed Colleen on her janitorial job at the Wet Dog, interviewed her about her life since being adopted during the Korean War, then flew to New York to resume the documentary.
The project, financed by South Korea’s NBC, is planning to fly Colleen and Bill to Korea Thursday for a week of more filming.
“It was a terrific experience for his mom and me!” Bill explained. And it looks like the excitement has only just begun. (Dec. 21, 2012)