Above: Bill Verdier, Ireland, circa 1984, Photo by Joanne Van Voorhis
All of us at WXNA were shocked and saddened by the news that Bill Verdier, host of Down the Back Lane, passed away on Friday, February 25, 2022 at the age of 64.
Bill was a member of WXNA’s “First Class” of DJs, showcasing the best in Celtic music on WXNA every Sunday afternoon since we first took to the air in June 2016, along with being a first-class musician and a cheerleader for Nashville’s local Celtic music scene. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the station, working at many of our events with always a kind and friendly word for everyone he met. He embodied the best of “community radio” in everything he did for the station.
We asked Bill’s Down the Back Lane co-host, Kevin Donovan, to write a few words in memory of Bill, and he supplied this moving tribute.
It has been a privilege for me to co-host Down the Back Lane with Bill the last couple of years. Bill’s work as a DJ is an offshoot of his activity as a musician, and the show has greatly benefited from some of the same aspects of his personality that made him such a respected fiddler and arranger.
The respect and affection he inspired on and off the air is evident in the many social media posts mourning his passing from players of the music he championed, nurtured, and sustained in middle Tennessee. His vast and deep knowledge of Irish traditional music and related musical traditions enriched both the show and his playing.
I learned much about the living culture of the music from listening to the show before being invited to join him, and I continued to learn much from him in the studio. In addition, Bill’s taste and judgment were always strengths of his programming as well as his playing. So was the passion he brought to the tradition he fiercely loved, both as a player and a programmer. His lively wit and sense of humor certainly benefited the show, but they were also aspects of the great sense of fun and vitality that likewise enlivened his playing in sessions and performances. I honor and cherish the memory of our friendship, conversations, and musical exchanges, and I mourn his loss.
— Kevin Donovan, March 2, 2022
Down the Back Lane will carry on in Bill’s spirit in its usual time slot, Sundays 4-6 p.m. CT