Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jeff Buckley & The Chaos We've Become (Pt. 2)

There is a box in my closet affectionately labelled “Sentimental”. Over the years, it's become a resting space for old letters, post cards, photographs and anything else that I felt too attached to throw away. It's a place where my memories go to ferment, to age like a fine wine and wait to be re-discovered years later. I have trouble letting go of things.

Dream Brother
In the summer of 2001, I was having trouble letting go of Jeff Buckley. I had been introduced to his music by a first love not less than a year earlier. (read PT 1. here) The impact was sizemic. I became absorbed in Jeff's mythology as much as in his music. Sometimes when we lose folks at a young age their story takes on extra weight. They cease to be mere mortals and loom large in our mind as deities. It is a cruel twist of fate to fall in love with something only to simultaneously learn of it's tragic passing. My experience with Jeff Buckley has always been bittersweet.

In my quest for all things Buckley, I came across the book Dream Brother by David Browne. In it Browne weaves a grimm-like fairytale of both the life and death of Jeff and his father Tim Buckley. While the historical accuracy of Browne's book is debatable, it proved to be a treasure map of sorts, filling in the details of Jeff's final days in Memphis. For an obsessed fan, it was biblical. But, it raised as many questions as it did provide answers.

Pointing the way on the plains of Illinois
Shortly after reading Browne's book, I serendipidously crossed paths with the band Maggie, Pierce and EJ, who's lead singer had befriended Jeff. It felt like a reuinion of sorts. Enraptured by her stories, I devoured any information she could give that would fill in the missing pieces of his legend. But, the experience was solemn. For me it was a myth, but for Maggie it was a real person she was grieving. There was sadness in her eyes when she talked about him and very real pain in her voice. She gave me the album For that her band wrote about and dedicated to Jeff in their own effort to come to terms with his passing. I often find that the way to de-mystify things is to experience them first-hand, so when Maggie invited me to visit her on tour in Memphis, I jumped at the chance.

Packing up my rusted out Honda, I embarked on a 10 hour solo journey from Michigan, through the endless plains of Illinois, down to the Mississippi delta in the middle of a July heat-wave. It was equal parts Kerouac and crazy. The summer humidity of the southern delta was something I wasn't prepared for. Suffocating and oppressive, it left me in a shamanic-like trance. I arrived to a giant bronze statue of Elvis, rested at his feet and chuckled to myself thinking about how many folks had probably made a similar pilgrammage to see “The King”.

The King
Trusty “Dream Brother bible” in hand, I first retraced the steps to the house Jeff stayed at while recovering from the pressures of New York and burgeoning stardom. What I found was a humble looking white one-story on North Rembert St. flanked by pink flowering bushes. Although, this was my Graceland, I stopped short of knocking on the door. There were no guided tours here, no jungle rooms or peanutbutter & banana sandwiches. Just a small house that looked eerily similar to the one I was renting at the time in Kalamazoo. I took a picture for posterity and moved on.

Jeff's house on North Rembert st.

As I headed towards the Wolf River, I imagined what kind of folks might be living there now. Did they know who had walked the halls before them? Could they hear faint whispers of “New Year's Prayer” when the floor boards creaked? Had they even heard of Jeff Buckley? Maybe it was better if they didn't know. Jeff's music was haunting enough to those who heard it. The mind boggles at what energetic imprint he may have left behind in a physical space.

Part 3: Coming Soon!!

Check out Pt. 1 Here:

Monday, November 19, 2012

SHOW TONIGHT: LIVE in A2 w/ Charlene Kaye, Doors @ 7:30pm

Hi Friends!


Just wanted to give you a quick heads up that I will be performing tonight at LIVE in Ann Arbor with my good friend Charlene Kaye from New York!! This is an ALL AGES show, so bring the whole family!! Doors are at 7:30pm, $5 cover. Hope to see you all there!!


Also, I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all my new friends from the Jeff Buckley Tribute I recently played at Uncommon Ground in Chicago!! I had a great time and appreciate these events more and more every year. You can read a new blog post about my first experience with Jeff Buckley's music here:

Jeff Buckley Tributers, Class of 2012!!


Let's hang out on social media!! Be sure to "like" my facebook page and subscribe to me on twitter for exclusive music updates and satirical photos & videos : ) 



 Hope you all have a great Turkey day!!

: )


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jeff Buckley & The Chaos We've Become (Pt. 1)

Every November since 2005, I have been fortunate enough to be asked to play The Jeff Buckley Tribute Concert held annually at Uncommon Ground in Chicago, IL. As we near this year's tribute, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what Jeff Buckley's music means to me and tell you a story of a musical pilgrimage that eventually became immortalized in the song “The Chaos We've Become”.

My musical and spiritual journey with Jeff Buckley began back in the early 00's. I was 20 years old. A young college kid skipping around from one major to another, an aspiring renaissance man, who despite incredible enthusiasm, still lacked a tangible direction. I loved music, but was apprehensive about my voice. Like many fledgling artists, my confidence came and went.

At the beginning of my junior year, I moved into my first apartment; a majestic old blue and red victorian home in the heart of Kalamazoo that had been unceremoniously split into four separate units. Upstairs lived a beautiful & mysterious raven-haired woman from who's apartment came all sorts of wonderful sounds and smells. For a kid use to living on ramen noodles and cafeteria food, the smell of saffron and sauteed red bell peppers was as hypnotic as her enormous cat-like sapphire eyes. Needless to say, I was smitten. We eventually became friends. We would spend hours on the porch discussing the meaning of life and all things magical. She was the definition of a muse.

One night she pulled out a CD from her collection that sported on the cover; a glitter jacket-clad man clutching an old fashioned Frank Sinatra-style microphone. He looked pensive or at least distant in some way, like he was lost deep in thought. “Have you ever heard Jeff Buckley before?” she asked. I shook my head no and watched her eyes narrow and a thin knowing smile cross her face as she put the disc in the stereo and pushed play. A soft falsetto wafted in over the speakers as the opening seconds of “Mojo Pin” started penetrating my brain. The voice was un-like any I had ever heard before. It was at once ethereal and feral, like a beautiful angel cursed by the full moon into lycanthropic madness.

The song kept building, chords accumulating like storm clouds, Jeff moving through all five gears of his elastic tenor voice into a thunder-clap of emotional orgasm. It was thrilling, dangerous and beautiful. It was like he was singing everything that I was feeling. Angst, longing, and fear blended seamlessly into the ecstasy, magic and wonder. He transmuted pain into a rose, but never let you forget about the thorns.

I borrowed her copy of Grace and had it on an endless loop for months. I was obsessed. Every note became etched into the far corners of my consciousness. I went hoarse trying to mimic the sweeping screams while also trying to absorb the more subtle points of the album's essence. Certain music often become the soundtrack of our lives and Jeff Buckley's Grace will forever be associated with my coming of age and falling in love.

Check out Pt. 2 Here:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Evil Easter Bunny

In a house of innocence, a harmless ode about rabbits starts to go terribly wrong...