Rough Stones Music The official music & blog site of Dove nominee, singer-songwriter, Jim Croegaert Tue, 29 Mar 2016 22:12:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jim Croegaert at Sing Me High Music Festival Tue, 21 Aug 2018 22:20:20 +0000

I will be appearing this Saturday, August 25, at the Sing Me High Music Festival in Virginia. I will have one set and Reunion Vocal Band will have a set. I have of course been part of RVB since its inception and it includes many of my favorite musicians, who have accompanied me on a number of my recordings. So it will be great to have them playing with me on my set, as well as to do my part in the RVB set.

Full information about the festival can be found at

I hope to see you there!

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Jim Croegaert in Concert Tue, 22 May 2018 16:01:29 +0000 Songs to Remind, Songs to Remember

10:30 AM, May 27, 2018, at:

New Covenant Fellowship
124 W. White St.
Champaign IL 61820

Website Info:
Phone: (217) 355-2038

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Tim Slevin – What I Remember Sat, 12 Sep 2015 14:58:38 +0000 tim-slevin-1

Mike Foster, Tim Slevin, Jim Croegaert


I met Tim as a high school freshman at Spalding Institute in Peoria, 1960. He possessed many important attributes, not the least of which was being able to mimic some very distinctive persons, notably our principal, Father Brown, as well as certain teachers. He could also sing Little Richard songs with true flare, was a natural showman. He sang and played bass in our band, The Tempests, until his parents vetoed his involvement and we had to find another bass player. He still sat in on vocals on occasion, sometimes in a glittering smoking jacket and shades.

After high school, I went to St. Joseph’s in Rensselaer for a year, he to Quincy College. We kept in close touch. After one year at St. Joe’s I went on the road with my old band. We changed our name to The Truviers, then to The Heard, then to The Wylde Heard. Tim often traveled to visit us, most often in the company of another mutual friend, Mike Foster. Those are precious memories. Then graduation happened, and for him, Vietnam, which prevented him from being in our wedding in 1970, as best man. Big changes were in store for both of us.

We had less contact as the years went on, but still kept in touch and saw one another on occasion. Then a few short years ago, and shockingly, Tim was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. By this time I had been a hospital chaplain for over a decade, and I knew this was far from a good thing. But Tim was characteristically positive as he went forward into the treatments, receiving unstinting support from wife Nancy, and from his kids, Drew and Natalie. We talked much more often in this time period, and I would often be tired from laughing afterward. He was one of the funniest people I have ever known, as well as one of the best. But many of the treatments he underwent were simply hellish. He did have one extended period when he was in remission. Mike and I spent a wonderful afternoon with him shooting pool in his basement. (A number of photos are from that day.)

But the cancer, as is its wont, returned and worsened. Eventually he realized his options for fighting the disease were exhausted, and he called to say good-bye. Tears fell. Not long after, the call came that he had passed. More tears. The song, “What I Remember,” came shortly thereafter, and I was honored to sing it at Tim’s memorial service a few days later. I miss him. A lot.

Jim Croegaert
September, 2015

What I Remember

Lyrics by Jim Croegaert

What I remember
Are nights we were driving or walking
And I remember
We solved so much just by talking
And we had our dreams
Of what would come to pass
When what would really last
Was the love and the laughter

What I remember
Is a smile that could warm anybody
And how it warmed me
Sometimes when the cold was upon me
And we did not know
How quickly it would fly (to)
Recalling with a sigh
The love and the laughter

What I remember
Is someone who through hell and high water
Kept on fighting
Not just for yourself but for others
And cancer could not break
The life it came to take
For even though we ache
The love and the laughter

Are what we remember

Download a Lyric Sheet in PDF format: What I Remember

Download and Purchase the MP3

In Memoriam


Timothy J. Slevin

Sept. 25, 1946 – May 22, 2013

None of us will forget Tim Slevin’s laugh and his smile.
Since his death, memories have flooded us, laughter commingled with weeping, recalling the tales he told, both tall and true. Every recollection always seems to come back to that smiling laugh.
Tim’s courageous conviction that his cancer could be conquered was contagious. For thirty-three months, through daunting chemotherapy and radiology regimens, this happy warrior, this fighting Irishman believed that victory would be his, as we all prayed.
Now we have the memories that make us laugh and smile again. Capturing him in words is like trying to catch lightning, sunshine, joy, magic, and thunder in a Mason jar.
We met in 1961, both Spalding Institute sophomores-to-be aged 14. The Tempests, a band of schoolmates, were playing a summer dance in the St. Thomas school gym. Midway through their set, this apparition wearing blue-lensed sunglasses, black leather jacket, and blue jeans spun around, clutching a microphone and singing Little Richard’s “Jenny, Jenny, Jenny, won’t you come along with me?” I thought He looks like an interesting guy. I should get to know him better.
I did. He was.
Because he bought a bass guitar, he moved to The Tempests’ front line, lead singer on Freddy Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie,” Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Don’t You Just Know It?” Bobby Vee’s “Walkin’ With My Angel,” Jimmy Soul’s “If You Want To Be Happy,” and The Showmen’s celebration of rock and roll, “It Will Stand.” Because I knew many lyrics, found a drummer from Canada attending Woodruff on my paper route, and drove a hard bargain for five matching blue batik blazers in Block and Kuhl’s basement, I became the band’s manager.
Quite rightly determining that The Tempests were increasing Tim’s exposure to beer and college girls twisting the night away, his parents Spalding and Jane terminated his music career. I filled in on the bass at one Bradley frat party in a barn on Pottstown Road by watching rhythm guitarist Paul Burson’s fingers before Billy Sutton took over.
However, music bonded us for the rest of our lives together. On the day the Beatles’ first Capitol single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” b/w “I Saw Her Standing There” was released, we walked down to Jay’s on southwest Adams Street and bought it. Tim did a fab depiction of Paul McCartney on that picture sleeve.
His mischief was the stuff of Spalding legends. One day in Br. Houde’s senior English class, Tim snuck out the rear window. Some wit shut it. So Tim walked around the corner on the tiny third-floor ledge and knocked on Br. Houde’s front window to be let in.
His uncanny gift of mimicry stood him in good stead in Spalding skits. He’d mastered many imitations, but none better than his send-up of Fr. Brown, who’d been the principal our first three years there. With the loan of a cassock by co-conspirator Fr. Lund, our American history and French teacher, Tim became Fr. Brown, gesture and voice, down to the last dotty dignified detail.
tim-slevin-2As scriptwriter at one school assembly, I said, “To help motivate us to sell this truckload of World’s Finest Chocolate, an old friend has returned.” When Tim strode on, the gymnasium went up in gales of glee and howls of hilarity. I sat ten feet left of him, thinking They can’t give us jug until we leave the stage. They didn’t; the Viatorians were laughing as hard as the rest of us. That grand moment turned up in the Spalding yearbook.
In 1964, Tim went west to Quincy College while I went north to Marquette University. Letters kept our friendship alive. He wrote like he talked, wild wit, sardonic observations. We shared our newest musical discoveries with one another. Discovering that Jim Morrison of The Doors sang just like our erstwhile sex-obsessed senior religion teacher Fr. McCarthy talked fueled more Timitations: “Come on, doctahs, light my fi-yuh.” He turned us on to Lenny Bruce’s “Lone Ranger” schtick and the prison riot bit with Dutch and Fr. Flotsky. Musically, he was the first to be hip to everything from the Velvet Underground to Lyle Lovett to the Dixie Chicks to John Hiatt.
Over summers, he worked for his dad as a box salesman for Slevin Container Corporation while I was a night-side reporter for the Peoria Journal Star, getting off at 11. More than once, we drove to Ishpeming in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to see Jim Croegaert and other erstwhile Tempests, now playing as The Heard. Homeward bound after a loud sleepless weekend, once I awoke outside Green Bay hearing Tim doing dialogue from Alastair Sim’s Scrooge, the Dickens Christmas classic 1951 film. Slevin had memorized every line. He never forgot them.
For one fantastic week after completing junior year, he and I teamed up to do publicity for The Heard’s booking agency, Ram Productions in Janesville. I interviewed and wrote, and Tim, wearing an Aussie bush hat, shot photos. We travelled all over the Wisconsin teen bar circuit, living on beer, bratwurst, and brio, Kerouacs in paisley until the call of our “real” jobs forced our return to Peoria.
After graduation in 1968, Tim went off to U.S. Army officers’ candidate school in Georgia. He created the world’s shortest film, a ten-second slow-motion drive past a sign that said “You Are Now Leaving Georgia.” The Army’s slogan then was “A Choice, Not A Chance.” Lt. Slevin edited them with Magic Marker so they read “Choice? Not A Chance!”
I was teaching at Spalding, and then back up to Marquette to earn my MA in English. Our letters continued. Even in combat up country in Vietnam, his droll humor never failed him.
In spring, 1971, I flew home from Milwaukee with MA in hand to interview for a job teaching English at Illinois Central College. Since Tim was due to have completed his three years’ duty to Uncle Sam, after my interview I drove out to his parents’ home on Picture Ridge Drive. He answered the door. We took some beers out back and climbed up to the tree house overlooking the Detweiler woods. We were home free.
One memorable day, we walked from there down to the Illinois River. Tim hated spiders and every time he saw one enwebbed, he’d draw his .22 pistol, line up his shot carefully, and blast it to arachnid oblivion. “Do you think its little ears are ringing?” he’d say delightedly.
Only years later, on sabbatical at the Journal Star in 1982, did I discover that Tim had been awarded a Bronze Star in Vietnam…for disobeying an order. Up in country, the Viet Cong began hitting the villagers camped outside Tim’s compound. The terrified Vietnamese begged him to let him in, but the commanding officer had a standing “No Admittance” command. Though his master sergeant vigorously objected, Lt. Slevin gave them shelter from the shooting. After the captain returned, he called Tim onto the carpet and chastised him severely. Tim explained that they’d carefully searched each entrant and put them under guard where they could do no mischief. Nevertheless, said the captain, you disobeyed, you put the whole base at risk, and I’m recommending you for a Bronze Star; you did the right thing. That was one the one and only time we spoke of it His was probably one of the few battle stars awarded for compassion and mercy, not killing.
After living in Peoria for several years, we moved to the east side of the river, me to a Metamora farmhouse and him to the hills above Spring Bay, then later to a wonderful high-ceilinged home overlooking the Illinois River valley and the McCluggage Bridge.
Our misbegotten adventures continued. Once he climbed on my shoulders with his chainsaw to trim low-hanging branches. Young woodsmen, don’t try this.
Another time I persuaded him that we both needed to raise lambs, so we bought two each from an ICC colleague. He’d fashioned a triangular pen of 36-inch chicken wire. His duet took one look at that laughable confine, bounded over it, and for days were runaway ewes.
When they finally were tracked down in a barnyard down below, we went after them and cornered them. The bigger one went through me like Refrigerator Perry taking out a 145-pound Green Bay lineman, but Tim caught the other by the foot and for an hour, we carried that kicking, smelly, drooling beast back up the hills to his Alconbury Road abode. His young fiancée Nancy saw us returning victoriously from the hunt and brought down two ice-cold Michelobs. “Slevin,” I said. “You’d better marry that girl.”
On Nov. 13, 1977, in their new mansion on the hill on Upper Skyline Drive, he did. I was the best guy. Son Drew was born on June 1, 1981, and daughter Natalie completed the family on April 22, 1983.
We shared many good times with them. When the Bears won the 1985 Super Bowl, the four of them and we four Fosters danced around the house, a triumphant Super Bowl Shuffle.
Slevin was always looking for new challenges and conquering them. Using the GI Bill, he learned to fly. His courtship of Nancy included flights around Illinois, practicing touch-and-go landings and seeking out grassy landing strips for romantic picnics.
He decided that Peoria needed a new auctioneer. So in 1989, off he went for a week at the Missouri Auction School in Kansas City, mastering the mesmerizing chants of the sudden sales artists. He donated his talents to good causes like Rock For The Cure and the campaign to save Metamora’s Black Partridge Park from golf course developers. My father Claude Foster, himself a lifelong road salesman, once said, “That boy could sell shit to the stockyards.”
We were competitive as only best friends could be, from eight-ball on his pool table to hand-held electronic football games to croquet to bocce ball to Guts Frisbee, which we’d play in hundred-degree humid July heat to frigid December matches splashing through ice-puddles with a frozen disc. Every Bears vs. Packers game, we bet a six-pack of good imported beer.
tim-slevin-3When Jo and I would be gone for a weekend, a week, or even four months while I taught in Canterbury in 2004, our homestead of cats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, Guinea fowl, and lambs was fed and watered by Timwise Gamgee. Though he’d retired as shepherd after one year, he helped me bring home the two Cheviot ewes that would become my breeders in my Chevette hatchback. We were driving them up Germantown Hill, Tim in back trying to keep them from joining me in front., when two of his neighbors passed us by ogling and making “What?” gestures. Tim rolled down the window and yelled, “Double dating!”
He was a busy businessman and a sold salesman. His entrepreneurial spirit was infectious. He rightfully rejoiced in being Natalie’s not-so-silent partner in her Sugar Bakeshop in Denver and her star turn on Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel. Nancy’s Good Mama jewelry-making business likewise made him proud.
His July 4 fireworks shows and his “Uncle Chan” commentary loom large in his legend. Our dialogue as we shot pool wearing Shriner fezzes amplified the pleasure of playing what was, for me, almost always a sound defeat. But with Tim, I lost laughing.
Then cancer came.
In the time from his diagnosis to his death 33 months later, I only saw him twice. But I wrote him a cheering postcard almost every day. In our last phone conversation in late April, he was coughing and hoarse but chipper and confident that he was winning the match. “Maybe you can come over later this week,” he said.
“You just say when,” I replied.
That day never came.
When we would sit outside under the shade of the maples in my yard, we’d sometimes speak of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” and “Bookends,” looking forward to the days when we’d sit side by side, lost in our overcoats, pondering how terribly strange it was to be seventy.
Alas. Tim Slevin and I will never share those days.
“Time it was and such a time it, it was / A time of innocence, a time of confidences / Long ago, it was sweet / I have a photograph / Preserve your memories / They’re all that’s left you.”

Written by: Mike Foster

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Benefit Concert for Friends of Habiba Sun, 13 Oct 2013 14:08:06 +0000 Jim Croegaert and friends will perform a benefit concert for friends of Habiba – Bringing her family from Darfur to safety – on Saturday October 19, 2013 at Reba Place Church, 7:30 PM.


620 Madison St. (Corner of Custer, near Main St. El) in Evanston, IL – see map below

More Details

Habiba’s family was torn apart by the violence in Darfur. Through many trials, she arrived safely in the US where she found friends and safety, yet was still separated from the family she loved and longed for. Help us bring them all to safety so they can live with dignity and freedom.


View Larger Map

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Oklahoma Wed, 10 Jul 2013 14:28:33 +0000 I wrote a song while serving with the Red Cross in Oklahoma in June, 2013 and recorded it recently. Tim Serban heads up Disaster Spiritual Care for the Red Cross and he put mine and others’ photos with it, and posted it to YouTube. I’ve included the lyrics here as well. Hope you all enjoy it!


Jim Croegaert

Don’t you cry for me now
Don’t cry for me
I’ll be all right in time
You’ll see

These winds that have torn us
They do leave their scars
But we’ve always come back
So far

Oklahoma – all right!
Oklahoma – okay!
But I know that you won’t mind
If we pray for you, Oklahoma

Don’t you cry for me now
Don’t cry for me
We’ll find our way somehow

To some better place where
The wind and the rain
Again sweep more gently
Our plain

Oklahoma – all right!
Oklahoma – okay!
But I know that you won’t mind
If we pray for you, Oklahoma

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Vanguard Spiritual Services event Thu, 20 Oct 2011 22:11:59 +0000 We will be presenting for Vanguard chaplains October 26, 2011, at West Suburban Medical Center, Oak Park, IL.

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With RVB at Laurelville Thu, 20 Oct 2011 22:10:51 +0000 Janalee and I with our Reunion Vocal Band friends at Laurelville Mennonite Church Camp in Mt. Pleasant PA October 21-23, 2011.

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Alabama Skies Wed, 20 Jul 2011 22:09:54 +0000 Plain Views

An article on Spiritual Development called Alabama Narrative by Jim Croegaert appears in this months special disaster relief issue of PlainViews, a newsletter of the Health Care Chaplaincy, an organization leading in the research, education and practice of spirit-centered palliative care.

The article includes the lyrics to a song written by Jim about his Alabama relief experience called Alabama Skies (repeated below).


Jim Croegaert

She said she saw the sky
It seemed so very strange
The way the clouds were forming
How rapidly they changedAnd then they came together
And she found it so odd
That she found herself thinking
Looked like the arms of God

And I don’t understand
So much of what I’ve seen
One moment there’s such beauty
And all seems so serene
And then it comes with such fury
That it’s hard to visualize
How it was before the storms came
Out of Alabama skies

It’s hard to comprehend
When someone has lost
A sister and her grandkids
How you count the costClinging to an image
So deep and so broad
That somehow they’re flying
Into the arms of God

And I don’t understand
So much of what I’ve seen
How it comes out of nowhere
And changes everything
But I will remember
And try to see with Sadie’s eyes
How it was before the storms came    (What she saw before…)
Out of Alabama skies

Copyright 2011, Rough Stones Music, 827 Monroe St., Evanston, IL 60202, USA. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


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Tearing Fri, 20 May 2011 22:08:35 +0000 – Jim Croegaert

How can the sky
turn against us
like this?
And send forth such Furies
tearing holes in the world
tearing holes in our

Roof from home
Home from foundation
Tree from earth
Child from mother’s arms
Mother from son
Daughter from parents
Lives – oh! so many
Lives – oh! Oh!

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Final Alabama Update Fri, 20 May 2011 22:07:38 +0000 Tomorrow I will fly home. None too soon. I am very proud of the work done by our group of chaplains here. But ready to go home, and leaving things in good hands here. Did sing my “Blessing” song this a.m. for our Headquarters morning meeting, which was well received, and meaningful to me to do. Will post a poem (Tearing), hoping it is not too heavy.

– Jim

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