1971 - 2009


a tribute from "the Terrastock Nation"

Byron Coley

Rob Vaughn

Steve Krakow

Dan Cohoon

Bill @ VHF

Gavin Prior

Nashville Dave

Nick Castro

Dave Colohan

Bob Bannister

Erik @ Mutant

Chris Scofield

Lee Jackson

Jeff Barsky

Keith Wood






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 us.


Jack 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 with permission)

“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 the possible

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 long time
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

--byron coley
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 the 1990's.

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 them.

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 Pelt CDs.

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 arrive.

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 play live.

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 room...

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:

Steve Krakow



It always 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 : http://amplitude-photography.blogspot.com/search?q=jack+rose

 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

Upon 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.

Nashville Dave

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...


Nick Castro

Still finding it hard to process the news...
I was lucky enough to play a few shows with him over here a few years back.
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 Martyn...
Heh, I still wonder if he would've thrown me...
I feel lucky to have met him & his wife & I'm devastated for her loss.
Godspeed Dr Ragtime....
There'll be beers in Heaven...

Dave Colohan / United Bible Studies

I happened 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.

Bob Bannister

I am speechless.
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.


Erik / Mutant Music

I received 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 friends.
Glenn just played a handful of dates with Jack mere weeks ago in Europe.
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 now.

To Jack.

-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 Jockey.

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 friends.


Lee Jackson

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

So, Jack….
I poured myself a shot of Jack
& sat down to talk to myself
about yrself.
I got yr new record from rick
You left the master with rick,
We knew yr plan
Oh yeah- 
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
Down home 
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
For disagreeing
But you’d always listen to the reasons
Behind my thoughts
Studying them like you studied yr playing
Somehow apprehensive
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
This boogies
Harder than an 18 yr old
 high on hooch…
now on to track 5
yr Copenhagen boogie
id say
 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
I'd say
He’d gruff
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 
And laughing
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
That song
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


My wife and I had a chance to hear Jack Rose play above a storefront church in Fishtown, Philadelphia in 2006.  We were quite mesmerised and hypnotised by the ancient and otherworldy sounds emanating from those strings, as was everyone in the room.  Was it the year 1932 or 932? The Piedmont valley or the Indus Valley? When he finished playing, it felt like waking up from a dream.  I spoke with him a little outside the church as he rolled up a cigarette, and I recall his down-to-earth friendliness as we chatted about the peculiarities of 'freak folk' as a musical genre.  He was more into the blues, he said.  I told him I had some cool Burmese guitar music albums he should hear.  As long they're vinyl, he said.

I don't think we'll be hearing the likes of him anytime soon.  But then again we can always spin a Jack Rose album and be thankful. 


Thanks Jack Rose.

Your fan, Dan Kelly