Bill @ VHF
Erik @ Mutant
I awoke late here in England this morning to hear
the tragic news that Jack Rose passed away suddenly last night, 5th
December 2009, of a heart attack. I'm left feeling shocked, saddened
and incredulous. Jack was easily one of the finest guitar players of
his generation - but he was also far more than that. He was also a
good friend to a lot of people.
I last saw Jack play just a couple
of weeks ago in Bristol. He was happier than I’d seen him for a long
while, pleased with the way his tour with the Black Twig Pickers was
going, and finally making a living off his music (something few of
us ever realise, or certainly not without compromising). Just before
the show started, he called to me across the foyer where he was
stood chatting to Michael Chapman, who had likewise gone to see Jack
perform that night, and I smiled to myself, thinking how like two
opposing ends of the musical spectrum they were: the old and the
new, and yet joined by an invisible thread of mutual respect and
understanding. I wouldn't have believed then and I can't believe now
that of the two, Jack should have been the first to be taken from
was like an uncle to the whole extended Terrascopic family; always
there for us to talk to, always the first to encourage us when we
needed it, and, bless him, usually the first one drunk at any family
gathering. Larger than life and twice as natural. To say we'll miss
him is a massive understatement.
Our deepest condolences go out to Jack's wife,
Laurie, family and friends.
Here is a collection of tributes submitted in the
days that followed...
Jack Rose and Marissa Nadler
Words and photo: Phil McMullen
Headline photo of Jack wearing hi
Fahey T-shirt: Keith Wood (used
“one for jack”
jack rose was one of those guys
with whom one feels an immediate bond
he wasn’t a physical giant or anything
but he had an immense presence
something, perhaps, more spectral than tangible
which filled a room easily
enveloping you in a kind of bear hug
that could seem either threatening or comforting
depending on the look in jack’s eyes
and on the level of self-assurance
in which you held the quality of yr record collection
jack was an excellent drinking partner
even if you weren’t imbibing yrself
he would see that yr portion was duly taken care of
without so much as a peep of complaint
and he had a set of ears and hands as big as his heart
which was huge as his thirst
once he’d left pelt and started his serious acoustic journey
we’d talk sometimes about guitarists and how they did certain things
i could almost never follow him after a while
but i figured his observations were right, because almost every time
i saw jack
his technique would have moved to a whole new level
beyond his models, beyond his friends, almost beyond the bounds of
occasionally we’d see each other for an intense string of days
then not again for a year or so…even more, i guess
but it was always great and easy to hang out with him
we’d make fun of each other’s cooking and record collections
maybe arm wrestle a bit, or at least talk about who was stronger
jack was just one of those people you knew you were gonna know for a
there was an agelessness about him that gave you the sense
he was built to last, like a bull
or a china shop
although what i guess he resembled most
was a bull becoming a china shop
his transformation from drone thug to master primitve
was amazing to behold
and we are so lucky – all of us
to have known him, or at least his music
because that music will always be available
as long as people can still perceive brilliance
and let’s hope that’s forever
so long, jack
tell fahey he’s goddman fatso
i’ll never forget you, man
deerfield ma 12/08/09
I had the
vast pleasure of meeting Jack Rose for the first time in Richmond,
Virginia in September 1995. I was there to visit Mike Gangloff,
founder and member of Pelt, an astounding, then under-rated band
that Jack had been playing with for I believe under a year, along
with their newest member Pat Best. All three were Good People, but
Jack was a bit of an enigma when we first shook hands.
Jack was a little wary, as
southerners often are, of a New Yorker coming to visit, but when I
pulled up in my car, which I was living out of while traveling the
U.S. for a year, I was playing a tape of the then hard-to-find Dead
C classic "Harsh 70's Reality" 2xLP. I was instantly accepted into
Jack's world, and the first hour of quiet suspicion lead to an
afternoon, evening and night drinking whiskey, smoking and playing
records and tapes of bands we both loved.
I gave copies of Dead C and other
New Zealand bands to Jack to hunt down later (he was never a music
pirate, but that goes without saying) while he turned me on to bands
I've never heard of, the most important being Charalambides, the
then three-piece of Tom & Christina Carter and Jason Bill, not as a
suggestion, but as a _strict_, *forceful* order (with much finger
wagging) that I seek them out when I made way to Houston, TX in my
travels. I arrived a few weeks after they quit their weekly gig at
some bar/club/café but I later got to meet them and consider them
good friends to this day. It was Tom Carter who called today to tell
me the bad news; thanks to Tom for not letting me find out by
reading it somewhere.
The reason I bother explaining the
above is that many people found Jack to be "stand-offish" or "hard
to deal with", because they confused the combination of his shyness,
his extreme self-criticism about his own music, his sudden sarcastic
wisecracks, and his quiet / gregarious dual nature. Jack could sit
silently for hours listening to music or letting people he didn't
find interesting talk away (although too polite to leave or say
something) or could be one of the most knowledgeable, talkative,
outright Music Fanatics... nay, Freaks, with a capital "F", that
I've had the pleasure to know.
Being an overly talkative music
slut myself, it's always wonderful to meet a kindred spirit, but
with Jack it was something more - he was even more enthusiastic than
I, and to my surprise, one of the 3-4 people I call friends who knew
far, far more about the music we both loved than I. So my visit to
Richmond sparked a long-lasting, wonderful friendship, one of the
few where I felt I always received far more than I could possibly
give. The kind of friendship that should be too rare to end.
Back then, Jack didn't want to
talk about his "blues roots" - rumor was he that he was a young
blues prodigy who gave it all up before letting himself turn into a
self-centered wanker like John Mayer or Fat White Guys who think
they know The Blues. He was completely into the "new" Pelt, which
started as the best "back when they were good" Sonic Youth styled
band, that then became something completely new and different, with
all the members bringing every possible sonic reference, style, and
talent to the table, to create music well-grounded with many roots,
yet completely utterly unique, that will someday be recognized as
far, far more important and interesting than most any music made in
A disclaimer: I had the pleasure
of touring, and even playing a tiny bit, with Pelt in 1998 during
one of their several high-points, and their "Rob's Choice" CD was
compiled and mastered by me. And poorly named for me as well. So all
I saw is highly biased. But why not? Jack had strong biases, and the
world was a better place for it.
Jack and I traded some tapes and
kept in touch until Pelt made the mistake of doing their one and
only West Coast tour, although playing at Terrastock that year
(1998) made it necessary. Their set at that year's festival is, and
rightly so, considered one of the best, if not _the best_ set of
that year - played in an S.F. warehouse room of people sitting and
just letting the brilliance of Pelt take them over and overtake
At that time, Jack was alternating
between electric guitar and a tambura, which he did brilliantly, but
did not showcase his brilliance: Pelt were a band of some of the
best American musicians alive today, not a "Rock Star w/band" like
the world of Top 40. The audience stood only for a long, necessary
ovation at the end. It was beautiful, and I hope to share the many
photos I took; a number of them were used for artwork on several
It was on that tour that I got to
see "grumpy Jack", another aspect of his personality that could be
off-putting, but knowing him, was part of his charm. And unlike some
very temperamental artists, Jack's "grump" came out only for good
reason and went away as soon as things were resolved. Anyone who
could accept a little criticism or needed an ego-check found this to
be yet another reason to love him. He checked me when I needed to be
checked, and I thank him for that, since only a true friend will
step up to that hard task.
Jack: "Man, it's fucking hot and
dry here (east Texas rest stop.)"
Me: "Dude, you should feel what
it's like at Burning Man..."
Jack: "Will you shut the fuck up
about Burning Man? It sounds stupid, I'm not going, and I don't need
to keep hearing about how it's 'more this' and 'more that' already".
Me: "<gulp> Sorry. Yeah, I've been
blathering about it. I'll drop it. Thanks."
It was about two years later, as I
poorly recall, that he rang me up, asking me if I could help him
with booking a solo tour in the Pacific Northwest - he'd returned to
acoustic guitar and decided to follow the footsteps of his heroes,
Robbie Basho (who he sent me records of that blew my mind), John
Fahey (a Northwest Hero still mostly unknown outside Music Geek and
European circles, much like jazz) and Peter Walker (who everyone
thought was dead, much to Peter's happiness.) I was more than
willing, and made sure he knew my home was his.
And so over the years, Jack
managed to make the west coast at least three, maybe four times. He
was the Perfect Guest for me: I'd leave the door unlocked so he
could just show up and come in, and every time was the same:
He'd bellow loudly, being a big
Grizzly of a man, that he'd arrived and was going to "take a fucking
shower". I'd yell back that towels were already out, and he'd head
for the bathroom, only to stop, and head back to the 'fridge for a
"beer after driving a long time".
Fortunately I lucked out on his
first visit and picked a beer he fell in love with. He'd swig it
down in under a minute, often while headed for the shower, once
while taking one, and we both understood that the time for "hello"
and "catching up" came after that. As someone who likes my friends
to feel at home in my house, I can't think of anyone who did it
better, and by just being himself, made me feel good the moment he'd
His gigs in Portland were always
sparsely attended, but having lived here for so long, at least I
could assure him the audience was full of people I knew to be the
kind who were very picky about who they would take time out to see
I always offered to record his
gigs but he was, sadly, not in the habit of recording most any gigs;
a reaction to Pelt's "record everything" approach (both takes
totally valid, I believe.) I would do my best to help with sound to
make sure his brilliance came across, and was delighted that an
insanely limited CDR release was titled "Portland, OR" with the old
"Hung Far Low" coaster on the cover (don't bother looking, all 12
copies are accounted for.) For me, it was as great an honor as
Pelt's "Rob's Choice" but with the brilliance of not including me in
particular (I loathe cameras and spotlights.) That he always
included an extra "hang-over day" after playing Portland does both
me and my city proud.
He was very strict about showing
up insanely early to gigs, and trying hard to sound check in a town
full of flakes, lousy sound-persons, and being the West Coast,
always slow and late (which drove him insane). Still, we still had
plenty of time to go record shopping, and after it opened, visit his
claimed favorite music shop, Mississippi Records, a place that was
like a crack house to us both, although having a mortgage, I was
forced to show far more restraint... despite him sticking a record
(never a CD!) in my face every minute and asking if I had it, and if
not, that I should, "dammit!" And despite his outward gruffness, we
never left that store without him handing me one of those records
that I passed on buying. Jack didn't just give his own music, but
also the foundations already laid on which he stood. Few musicians
I've met do that.
He even had a favorite Portland
pizza joint which was a long but good walk from my house, that
impressed him because he had worked making pizza, including the
skill to do it at home, and was, like his music, extremely,
fanatically picky about proper pizza, his food, his drink, his
music, and his personal life. Again, off-putting to some, but to me,
the reason to live and not settle for a McLife, as he never did.
My last, best, and most sad
experience spending time with Jack was when he was touring with
Peter Walker (yes, I thought Mr. Walker was dead too) and getting
the honor of having them stay three-plus days. Meeting Peter was an
honor; finding him to be a kind, gentle, easy-going Woodstock, NY
local (a fellow escapee from New York City) was even better.
Most fortunate was having the luck
of their arrival happening after Jack was past his total adoration
of Peter and into a "kindred spirit" relationship that made the
visit full of delight and wonder for every single second - I
honestly had to sleep most of day after they left. The "sad" part of
the experience was the shite product that is Sony's MiniDisc and
their recorders. I had turned Jack on to Absinthe two visits prior,
and so it had become am expected, de facto plan to spend an evening,
before or after a gig (never before or during) enjoying Absinthe's
wonders, which Jack took to even more than myself; once again,
showing he just had a much deeper understanding of things of this
world than I had ever thought humanly possible.
He'd talked it up to Mr. Walker
before the visit, and so after their gig (attendance 60, but people
paying attention, maybe a dozen) we got back to my place, unloaded
and Jack, who could be as quiet, polite, and shy as he was
out-going, gruff, and sometimes scary, asked quietly & kindly if we
might try some as Peter never had. Of course, I'd never pass an
opportunity to bring out my best and do a "vertical tasting" of 8
styles of my stock (Absinthe is style of medicinal liquor; think of
bourbon, not a name brand) and share them with Good People.
I purposefully held back two
rounds knowing I was where my headspace should be amongst two
geniuses, so I could appreciate their interaction, which lead to an
impromptu session of Jack and Peter trading licks and songs back and
forth as well as playing together. They were so engaged, these
lovers and artisans of music, that I was able to sneak away to get a
PZM mic and a MiniDisc recorder. Sadly, that night's jam session,
that went well into the wee hours of the morn, produced no
recording, as the MD died in that physical way they do - I even paid
for a "recovery" but was refunded when it couldn't be done.
Still, I would not trade that
precious night and their playing, talking, sharing tricks and tips
and showing each other licks - Jack's deep blues knowledge and
finger-picking skills against Peter's several years of studying
Flaminco guitar in Spain for several winters - I've had few nights
like that in my life. It went on and on, and I do not recall
speaking a single word. I learned more about guitar-playing that
night than all the years I've poorly played.
So when I got an email today (Mon
7 Dec 2009) from Tom Carter saying he was really having a bad day, I
wrote back, assuming it was NYC finally weighing in on him, and
talking up the coincidence that I had put writing him on my "to do
list". So I was delighted when the phone rang, until he shared the
bad news, which I knew long before he said it, given his tone of
voice, and the email that included a lot of talk about Jack - who I
was expecting to tour once his upcoming Thrill Jockey LPs were
released and was excited to get to hang with again.
So only a few hours of trying not
to think about it, I write this in lieu of working, because I just
cannot bottle up the painful sadness of knowing I will never get to
spend time with Jack again. Friends move away; get married and
disappear from social life; move to other countries, etc. But death
is death: the true definition of finality.
Having written this much, I find
myself in tears and wanting to finish it, although I know it's a
piss-poor job of expressing just what a terrible loss it is, for
myself, for his wife and friends, and for the music world, that Jack
passed at only 38 years old.
What's left to say?
Jack will never finish the last
half-rack of his fave beer (no longer made) that I'd cellared for
him; I'll not again be gifted with an LP I've never heard of that
would change my concepts about music; there will never finally be a
Jack Rose show in Portland at a _good_ club/bar with myself or
someone competent doing the sound so that it didn't piss him off...
the list goes on.
The Thrill Jockey LPs were going
to launch him, I have no doubt, given how hard and long he worked on
the new music and what a great label it is, into the kind of
semi-fame that Fahey and others of the odd-edgy-avant folk music
scene had achieved, and none too soon in my opinion.
I realize his death will probably
bring him that status, but I am sorry - too little, too late. Mr.
Jack Rose was a fine man, a good husband, someone who'd been through
the trials of life and came out of them with a passion which he
poured directly, unfiltered & full-proof, into his music and art,
but to me, having him crashing and stomping into my house - tired,
dirty, thirsty, but feeling he was at home, only makes the loss hurt
that much more.
Artists of Jack's caliber are
almost always intolerable assholes, or worse. Jack might have seemed
that way on the surface, but those of us fortunate and lucky enough
to get to know him will always appreciate that he broke that axiom:
you can be a truly, fantastically talented artist and a regular,
down-to-earth human being at the same time. I think that
"blue-collar working man" vibe shows in his music if you look for
it, and makes it even better when you find it.
The only thing I can say now is
that when they said "Only the Good die young", I realize now as I
grow older that it means, more often than not, that "being good at
something" is probably what "good" was meant to mean, not
"church-going" or "alms-giving". But two days before I wrote this -
the current world of music, which frankly I believe to be in a very
bad slump, has lost one of the few who was burning a bright and
colorful torch that gave those who knew his work a reason to look
forward to the future.
Much love, Jack. I hope your gig
with Heaven's Chorus is a good one. And if you're headed the other
way, can you book me a room? We still have so much to talk (over
each other) about: so many records, so many musicians, so many, many
things. That first drink is on me.
Rob Vaughn (RobVaughn@gmail.com)
Well, i can't tell you what
a rough weekend i had...i got the news Saturday afternoon about
the very untimely death of dear friend and phenomenal guitarist Jack
Rose--aged only 38, i couldn't believe a heart attack got him very
unexpectedly that morning. Jack was an incredible, old soul of a guy
that i can't even remember first meeting, it seems so long ago--it
was probably through our then mutual label Eclipse records, at the
SF Terrastock in 98, or booking his band Pelt in Chicago around the
same time. Whenever it was, our love of Canned Heat, Robbie Basho
and all musics psychedelic, boogie-ing, noisy or spiritually sublime
probably brought us together initially. I booked Jack numerous times
in Chicago, opened up for him and Peter Walker (which was a fuckin
dream come true for me and Jack), was even lucky enough to appear on
a recording session with him and Pelt, and to have him and Fursaxa
sit in on a show i played in Philly. On said voyage to Philadelphia
i ended up stranded with nowhere to stay for a week due to an inept
booker, and Jack took me in, cooked for me, and we spent nearly
every night drinking and listening to records--Jack informed me
on genres i only toyed with: pre-war blues, ragas, Rimbetika... he
also played me the best jams by Ry Cooder, Tony Joe White and
the uneven 80s Fahey albums...i will always think of Jack when i
hear this stuff.
|Jack Rose Galactic Zoo Dossier
trading card by Steve Krakow and Byron Coley -
reproduced with permission
Jack the performer was truly larger than life when he
sat down with a guitar---music from every age and genre
poured through his fingers, filled with the
pain and exaltation of said timeless ages as well. I almost couldn't
believe he was self-taught, but another friend, Marcia Bassett, was
Jack's neighbor and told me she heard him learning to play/pick
through the floorboards--improving vastly by the day. The thing i
loved about Jack perhaps the most, was his discrimating yet entirely
enveloping nature--he was literally the only one who hung in there
by my side for my entire 4 day "Million Tongues" festival, equally
excited to see fingerpicker Michael Chapman as he was to see
sadomasochistic noisemongers Whitehouse--he truly "got it" and
absorbed it all (plus he had to sleep on my damaged couch). And
despite his warmth, the man certainly took no shit from the
shitters--at a semi-bleak Chicago gig he played at like 1am to some
8-10 people, 3 of which were talking loudly--in mid-song Jack
stopped and exclaimed "HEY FUCK YOU", and kept right on playing.
Luckily i recorded this set, and it became a track known as the "Hey
fuck you rag" on a compilation i put together. When i last saw Jack
a few months ago, he was all smiles--visibly excited at his deserved
signing to the larger Thrill Jockey label. He handed me his latest
recording as he always did, and told me how tickled he was that i'd
included him as a "Damaged Guitar God" trading card subject for my
Galactic Zoo Dossier magazine--which he'd bought of his own accord
(of course i was gonna give him one!). I took off from the show
early after he played. and said i'd see him in Philly in a few
months on tour, and....i just can't believe i'll never see him
again, and never hear his truly blessed guitar coaxings fill the
Somehow his hero John Fahey lived for two decades more than Jack
did, with a most unhealthy lifestyle...it just doesn't seem
right...this earth is a lot less of a place without Jack and i can
never put into words how much i will miss him. His music will make
him immortal, but it's just not enough for me, i want him popping
open a brew on my couch while we rock out to some High Rise or
Allman Brothers bootlegs, and it just won't be. i guess as the
cliche goes, Jack wouldn't want us mired in misery...but it's sure
hard to shake.
Photographed: Tara Fursaxa, Jack Rose
and Steve Krakow
I managed to sneak an audio memorial at the end of my
radio show segment Sunday, archived here:
surprised me when Jack Rose would say hi to me at shows and the fact
that he even knew my name. After all I was just some dork with a
camera. The last time I saw Jack was at the Espers compound
Halloween party/show. It was a great night: MV+EE, Fursaxa w/ Mary
Lattimore & the Flower Corsano Duo were playing. Most everyone in
costumes. I remember Jack shooting the shit with Tom Carter. I tried
to offer Jack a beer, I don't know if my selection was up to his
standards; it should have been, it was Dogfish IPA (or something of
that ilk), but Tom took it instead. The shows with Jack at the
Brickbat Books or the Espers compound a.k.a. "Brooke's Juke Joint"
were always special. He was one of the cast of characters that
showed up and/or played that made it so. He always collected the
money for the traveling bands. There was no way, even if you were
dead broke, that you were not going to put one’s last five-spot in
the hat if Jack was holding it.
I was at John Fahey's last show. I
would have seen Jack get at least as old as Fahey. I would not claim
to know Jack well, but some of my best friends were his good
friends. My thoughts are with them, his wife and anyone who was
touched by his music.
See Link :
Dan Cohoon /Amplitude Equals
One Over Frequency Squared
I'm still processing the news about Jack - I couldn't believe it until I heard the sound of Mike Gangloff's barely audible voice on the phone. Jack was a character in a world of dullards - funny, loyal, loud, friendly, smartass, sometimes irascible - and he handled himself with a sureness and certainty that was the mark of someone who lived life on his own terms, whatever good or bad that meant from moment to moment. That's something that we all aspire to do, but don't, buckling under financial or family pressures to get going with "real life" - even if that real life isn't right for us. He'd really found his niche in the last few years, which was good for him and Laurie and extraordinarily lucky for all of us that loved his music. The music and friendship of the whole extended Pelt/Jack/Black Twigs/Spiral Joy family means so much to me that its occupied a good deal of my free time and attention as a low-budget patron of the arts and enthusiast for the last 15 years. It's impossible to imagine that thread continuing in the same way without Jack.
Jack's favorite band was the Doors. He claimed to know the secret of creating edible pizza at home in a regular oven. He told me that my toddler son played the keyboard like a "tiny, white Sun Ra." He said if he needed money, he had a Cecil Taylor record that he could sell for $60. My wife made him leave his coat in the Pelt van when they visited our house because it smelled like an ashtray. He hated "new agey guitar doodling." He would fight you physically, if necessary, over which Grateful Dead albums were good and which were not. He did not like iPods. He reveled in occasionally reminding me that the first time we ever met was at a house show in Purcellville, VA in 1993, where one of the Rake crew suggested by way of insult that his band sounded "like the Black Crowes." I don't remember that at all, but that was the show where I encountered our drummer slumped in a chair wearing an orange wig and a set of mechanics coveralls, and was immediately jumped upon by a girl who tried to shove a giant chewed up wad of candy into my mouth, so I guess it was true. It doesn't surprise me that tributes are pouring in from all over, considering how much Jack had been out there playing in recent years, traveling anywhere that would have him. I can only imagine how many places around the US and Europe he trounced with his force of personality - he was completely the opposite of the gentle giant cosmic-shaman-beardo that you might imagine from someone with his appearance who does extended solo guitar ragas.
Jack was one of a handful of people I've ever saw that can take an instrument and literally go beyond - there's lots of people out there who are merely good or great, but when he really felt it and channeled it, there' was something divine and transcendent in his touch. No tricks, no electric effects, just the sensation of making that perfect thing that lifted you out of this world. Jack became (underground) famous for his solo acoustic playing, but he wasn't a savant that emerged fully formed, he worked at it with complete determination, not seriously taking up acoustic until his late 20's. In 2001, when we were working on editing and mixing tracks for Pelt's "Ayahuasca," Jack sent an email to the Pelt team that declared that there would be no acoustic tracks in the package, because "I suck, those songs suck, and I'm going to concentrate on playing the bowed electric 12 string." There was no convincing him otherwise - he got very angry at the suggestion that he was being too tough on his own playing. He was totally right, of course. When new tapes started to arrive a few months later, he'd cracked it, had a breakthrough. Even then, it was hard to imagine that someone who had taken up the acoustic guitar a couple of years earlier would make something like "Black Pearls" or "Yaman Blues" from an instrument that in most people's hands just goes plink plink plink.
Jack and Laurie's wedding, a perfect day outside with family and friends. Officiated by Ian Nagoski, armed with a certification from some "Church of the Internets" and cleared for legality at the last minute via a fax to the county.
The handful of OASTEM! Vibe Orchestra gigs, which didn't really translate to recordings, but sounded like a hurricane from the middle. Jack in the blacklight, waving a microphone in front of a tiny, howling amp with all the concentration and complete seriousness of a classical harpist.
Early Pelt - different instruments, different sounds each time. Asking me for money at a show because they'd spent all their tour earnings on country blues records (which they had carried into the venue in two large crates for safe keeping). Club Soda with Un. "The Cuckoo" at Phantasmagoria. Three guitar jamdowns in Richmond, Philly. Immense, endless sounds at MOCA DC with a packed house (and cake). Playing the cavernous 930 Club before Sonic Youth in near darkness with a deafening set that sounded like WHHHHHAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMNNNNNGGGGGGGGGZZZZZZZZ.
Later Pelt - Upstairs at Funks in Baltimore - the best, for me - "Pearls from the River." Jack was very proud of "Untitled" because it was completely new - no acoustic elegies, no electric racket - something else weird and uncompromising. "Happy to being playing that music right now," he said. When Jack briefly merged his extended solo approach with the band, it was bliss, but short lived, too much going on. It came back for a bit in 2006, but that was the end of a chapter that sadly won't be continued.
Solo - shaky covers and duos with Mike - rough but the start of it. Recording "Opium Music" in a stairwell outside his apartment, a few perfect takes of each cut - done in a short afternoon. 611 Florida in 2004, an amazing performance, every note perfect. Just his unamplified guitars but THAT SOUND. Worrying over the same small repertoire, trying to get it just right. No "jams" or half-finished stuff. Raags for people waiting for Fahey-isms and rags for freaks. Jack and the Twigs - Jack, Nate, and Isak locked in - Mike freed up over the top. Full circle from their start, but ten times better.
I don't think Jack would want anyone to be sad.
Love to Laurie, Rose & Sutherland families, Mike, Amy, Pat, Sarah, Mikel, Nate, Isak, Glenn, Ian, & all other friends everywhere.
Jack was an old soul. He seemed
like he'd always been around and always would be. I heard about this
tonight from Cian Nugent who admired Jack's playing and whom Jack
greatly encouraged. There's Youtube footage of them arm-wrestling in
Belgium which only went up a couple of weeks ago. I was at a Blood
Stereo gig in Cork tonight promoted by Vicky who also plays in
United Bible Studies. Jack was the first show she ever put on. I got
the text at the end of the night as she was leaving and was too
shocked to tell her or anyone.
Nobody can believe it here in
Ireland - just one small
corner of the earth where he touched people's lives. Like many of
you here, I saw Jack kill it with the Black Twig Pickers at
Terrastock last year. Our paths crossed again in the honeymoon
compound in Philly where ourselves and Sharron [Kraus] were playing
at a birthday party. Jack wasn't even playing that night but he'd
vowed to go around with the collection hat making sure everyone
coughed up for the musicians. Who'd have refused him? He helped out
in the kitchen and shared his stories. I'll never forget the first
time I saw him play in Dublin; The forcefield of harmonics he
generated during Cross The North Fork is still humming..............
Gavin Prior, Deserted Village Records / United Bible Studies
hearing about Jack’s death, I just sat there for a while, thinking
of the times our paths crossed. How he would never fail to barge
over to say “hey”, give me a slap on the back & we would begin to
out-opine each other. He will remembered for his artistic abilities,
sure, but more for his presence. And that is what we can’t get back.
He was a limited edition.
In 2004, I
was still 24 or 25, I was playing guitars with Jack in a kitchen in
Fishtown and he asked me if I liked the Allman Brothers, I told him
that I could not fully appreciate them. He laughed and said, "By the
time you're 30, you'll love them", he was right. Bye Jack...
finding it hard to process the news...
I was lucky enough to play a few shows with him over here a few
A truly larger than life character, a gentleman & music lover, it
was a joy to rave about old Xpressway records with him & teach him
what little I knew about Irish folk music over a few pints. Watching
him play, seeing beads of sweat exploding on the strings as he drew
a mighty river in flood from those notes, it was impossible not to
be moved to tears...sheer fucking great to be alive tears. Aw,
listening to 'Cross The North Fork' was as moving an experience as
ye could have, sitting on the beer-sticky floor of a dingy pub yet
taken far away by the beauty of the playing...
In Philadelphia, Jack was in charge of passing the hat when United
Bible Studies played. He was renowned for making sure visiting
musicians were looked after...with a 'gentle' prod in the chest if
ye weren't coughing up!... & it was a wonderful night there, playing
outdoors & having beers & good times with wonderful musicians &
friends we've been lucky to make over the years.
My favourite memory of him will be from the Brownsboro Hotel in
Louisville at Terrastock. Threatening to throw me over the balcony
if I didn't remember the song we'd bonded over on his Irish trip, I
paused in beer addled fear for a moment before remembering John
Heh, I still wonder if he would've thrown me...
I feel lucky to have met him & his wife & I'm devastated for her
Godspeed Dr Ragtime....
There'll be beers in Heaven...
Colohan / United Bible Studies
to be attending the Espers show in New York last night where I heard
the news in a context of having several dozen people for mutual
condolences and reminscence. No one ever wants to plan last words to
anyone else but I think the last time I spoke to Jack some months
ago was to offer extravagant compliments after a characteristically
amazing show. Also sad that my son, whose tastes are just evolving
to encompass Jack's music will not be able to see him, which was an
event I was actively hoping for.
Jack was a wonderful person, and I now count myself all the more
fortunate for knowing him and having gotten to spend some time with
him. He always made time for me, and treated me like an old friend
even though we didn't see each other very often.
One of the finest players ever to pick up a guitar.
I will miss him.
a call from Glenn Jones earlier this afternoon with the news.
Glenn of course, as everyone here likely knows, was close with Jack.
Tour partners, collaborators, mentors to one another's art, great
Glenn just played a handful of dates with Jack mere weeks ago in
It's a major shocker.
I only met and hung out with Jack a handful of times. Over the past
year and a half I had been working with him and Glenn for the
pending DVD project celebrating their work, which captures them
performing solo and together, so I have been privileged to
correspond with him over that period of time, and get to know him
and his art even better and intimately.
The devastating news hits me on two fronts: 1) we just lost a
monster of a talent whose work within the new solo steel string
idiom cannot be championed enough, and 2) Jack was only one year
older than I, and that just hits too close to home. After I heard
the news, I peeked in on my wife who was nursing my daughter after a
lovely day getting a u-cut Christmas tree in the hills NW of
Portland. Sobering, the thoughts that are swimming in my head right
-Chris Scofield / Strange Attractors Audio House
Jack Rose is gone. What an abysmal
weekend. I don't really want to write this, but I have to. It's very
hard to put into words what this guy means to me and tons of folks.
He and I weren't that close, yet anytime I was able to just sit down
somewhere and shoot the shit with Jack Rose I felt like part of his
inner circle. He was a larger than life, robust, big bear of a man.
He died two days ago of a heart attack at only 38. Lots of fine
folks out there are offering up their own tributes and remembrances,
so I'll try to keep mine short (yeah right!).
The first time I actually met Jack Rose was at
Terrastock 6 in Providence, RI in 2006 (though I'd seen him in
concert with Pelt twice before that). After the first night's
festivities, Jack, Larkin Grimm and I walked down to a nearby Irish
pub (complete with thumping disco background music), and he bought
ME a beer of all things, after only just meeting me. I think I'd
given him my spiel about how important Pelt's and his music had been
to my old friend Mats (editor/publisher of The Broken Face) and I
over the years, how Empty Bell Ringing in the Sky did as much as any
other album in terms of turning us onto a different way of listening
to music and exploring sound. Meditation as music, basically, or
music as meditation, and forgetting where one ended and the other
began. He could tell I meant every word, and I knew he was a friend
from that moment on.
Later that night we ended up in a basement below
the taqueria that connects to AS220, one of the venues where
Terrastock was held that year. A lot of amazing musicians and some
close friends were there: Jeffrey Alexander, Miriam Goldberg, Tara
Burke, Larkin and Jack, Alan Davidson, Nari Mann, Travis Johnson and
someone else I'm forgetting. Sharron Kraus? We drank beer and talked
blues and guitars, about folks we knew, and I remember Larkin and
Jack having a kind of pseudo-debate about feminism and folk music as
the beer flowed and the smoke wafted upwards. A discussion of old
primitive blues sparked up, and the name Skip James came up, a guy
I'd just started to really get into. And Jack declared one of his
classic aphoristic summations of James and his musical oeuvre, a
sentence I'll never forget:
"Skip James is Whitehouse!"
And somehow I knew exactly what he meant. Guess
you just have to listen to a li'l Whitehouse, and then listen to a
li'l Skip James, to fully get that analogy. Made perfect sense to
me, then and now. A little later that night, I remember Jack looking
at me dead on: "You're not gonna write about any of this shit in
your your blog are you?" 'Hell no," I said, and I meant it. Well,
meant it at the time.
About a week later back in Dallas, I passed on an
opportunity to see Mogwai live, completely unaware who the opening
act was. My friend, Mike Maxwell, called me from the show and left a
message asking, "Where are you? Jack Rose is playing, and he put you
on the guestlist! Why aren't you here?" For whatever reason I
couldn't make it, but I remembered being fairly impressed that this
guy I'd only just met remembered my name, remembered where I lived,
and put me on the guestlist, simply to be cool. I wish I'd have been
there that night, for so many reasons...to see those post-rock kids'
confusion and/or enlightenment in the face of Jack's tantric string
fire, to shake his hand or give him a hug. I think about these
things, and I think about the true beauty of the man. It's so weird
to think that the music comes second.
But he was a guitar player too -- some would say
the best raga-picker today -- a blues scholar and a real fan. His
transcendent style derived as much from Skip James and other pre WW2
blues men as ragtime, country, John Fahey, Robbie Basho, The
Grateful Dead and John Martyn, just to name a few. And, of course,
his friends. Key albums? Hard to say. Red Horse/White Mule and Opium
Musick (both on Eclipse originally) get the ball rolling with raw
slide work, fluid fingerpicking and epic open-tuned raga mind wash.
Both can be found on VHF's Two Originals of Jack Rose CD. The
definitive Kensington Blues (VHF) would come a few years later, and
a two more years later the concurrently released self titled and Dr.
Ragtime and His Pals, both available as a 2CD from Tequila Sunrise.
There's more too, like his long gone echoplexed 7" single, Untitled,
which can at least be downloaded if nothing else. And don't get me
started on Pelt! His 10th solo album is due in early 2010 on Thrill
And now a little music:
The last time I spoke to Jack was at Terrastock 7
in Louisville, KY, but it's the time before that that really sticks
with me. I flew up to St. Louis to visit my friend Travis, and while
there catch a Jack Rose/D. Charles Speer/Raglani gig. It'd been a
couple years, but he remembered me. I told him how much I was
looking forward to seeing his buddy D. Charles, who is super sweet
cat too, and I'm sure feeling his own heartbreak right about now.
The show was in an art space called Open Lot, which is basically an
old converted firehouse from what I could tell. All three acts
killed that night -- D. Charles with his drunken country roots
psych, Raglani with his minimal electronic storms, Jack with his
mind-bending ragas and ragtime jigs. I think I bought a vinyl copy
of Kensington Blues and the aforementioned 2CD on Tequila Sunrise.
At one point I remember walking up the stairs to
watch Raglani's performance, and looking back and seeing Jack just
sitting there on a big brown couch in the main room. "Aren't you
comin'?" I asked. "Nah, I can hear it just fine down here. I'm just
gonna enjoy this old couch and relax a little while," and he
outstretched both arms on either side and gave us one of those big
wide Jack smiles. Something tells me he listened closely and
probably liked what he heard. Jack always had eclectic tastes, and
he meant every word. He will be be missed. Check out some of his
music if you never have. It comes highly recommended. Here's to that
big brown couch. Rest easy, Jack.
Deepest condolences to Jack's wife, family and
I didn't know Jack well at all - I had seen him play
a bunch, but hadn't actually spent time with him until the last
Terrastock in Louisville. We were in similar circles, as I play with
Scott [Verrastro], and Scott booked Jack a bunch at his home 611
Florida Ave. Our merch tables were very close by and we chatted for
a while about guitar playing, common friends, etc. If personalities
have anything to do with music, I'd say the guy distilled down to
the essence. There didn't seem to be a trace of bullshit in either
the man or the music. How else can you explain playing before OM
with only an acoustic guitar? That is some David and Goliath. RIP.
Jeff Barsky / The Insect Factory
I poured myself a shot of Jack
& sat down to talk to myself
I got yr new record from rick
You left the master with rick,
We knew yr plan
get ahold of rick-
He’ll make you a copy…
Making another step,
A step farther.
You wanted us to wait.
But I got you this time,
I'm persistent, you know this.
How many trains did I say
We’d catch? Maybe,
We missed one.
But I brought out the southern accent
And made it ok.
I could hear you breathing
At the end of track one.
You always seem’d to hold
Onto yr breath
Till you said what you needed to say
now track 2
And yr hollering
And I'm in tears
You and the Pelt/Twigs family
Made me feel at home
More down home than any
could of ever made me feel
We argued about what you’d call it.
You liked to argue about things
Sometimes it seem’d like you’d give me a stiff fist
But you’d always listen to the reasons
Behind my thoughts
Studying them like you studied yr playing
But fully formed- free and loving
Diamond sharp- and clear as the blue ridge of my youth.
Man track 4 – is kicking my ass, jack
You said you wanted it to swing
Harder than an 18 yr old
high on hooch…
now on to track 5
yr Copenhagen boogie
that room sang-
you felt it,
I did too- and it showed.
You played for an hour
And a half
The moment never told you
Anything, and if it did
I doubt that you’d of listened
I always think of that thumb
As a step, yr step. I see you
Smoking and walking
Cursing converse and all their kin
Its too wet here for them
And give me a 10 minute
Long lecture about getting a good pair of shoes for tour
Seem’d like he’d almost figured it out
A few weeks ago
I hadn’t seen you in awhile
A lot of shit had gone down
But its all ok now &
That’s all you needed to hear
And that’s how a friend
Should always be
In that moment
When we’re here
Together and we’re talking
Having a smoke
you always made me laugh so hard.
Sara, Fleetwood Mac-
I saw that needle bounce up and down
Maybe 15-20 times
Before you finally made it to bed
In that moment
Made it all alright
Like music should do.
And right now listening
To yr new record
I feel alright
& I know I can come back here
and feel alright
but I'm not going to ever
be able to fill the space
that I feel now
I’ll put on Tusk,
maybe Link Wray
Or Skip James
And laugh about how
He scared the shit out of you,
That’s what you always told me anyways
But I still don’t believe you.
Keith Wood / Hush Arbors