I want to share a recollection that was shared with me by Mary Houlihan, something that we fondly recalled the other day—It’s not so much a story as it is a state of mind, a snapshot in time.
Mary was dating Forrest, and at the time, Forrest and Jamie were frequent musical collaborators. This must have been around 1998. Jamie lived in Butchertown in the funny little shotgun place that one day just burned the fuck down. (Fortunately, nobody was home)
Anyway, because of music and friendship, we would all hang out together, mostly in Lexington, because mine and Forrest’s house was “practice-space-central.” for “the boys,” as Mary sometimes called them — Jamie, Fo, RScotPayne..
Around this time, I became aware of Rachel’s. Songs for Egon Schiele came to me by way of Forrest, who almost certainly got it from Jamie. It was and remains one of the most haunting and introspective pieces of music—of any genre—in my library.
Eventually, the opportunity — through Jamie, of course— presented itself to go to see Rachel’s in the Ville. I’m not really sure where the show was. It was like a college auditorium. Going to the show was an eye-opening experience for both me and Mary; to see this Louisvlle scene, to see these musicians who had street cred for playing in some pretty loud bands on stage in a scholastic auditorium playing… cellos and violas. Opening the show was maybe the first “math-rock” sort of band I’d ever seen, Dianogah. For somebody used to seeing bar bands, it was like landing on another planet. Not just musically either—The audience was attentive and supportive, with Jason Noble, during some technical difficulty asking: “Anybody know any jokes?” and then proceeding to tell some terrible ones himself. The audience was also full of loving hecklers, people you just knew were friends of the musicians, saying things like “Why don’t you play a little quieter?” to scattered cackling. Many of these were Jamie’s “Louisvlle friends,” I say as a Lexingtonian, and I saw for the first time that Jamie didn’t just have other friends, but that he himself was known and moved in much wider circles. Heck, I had to acknowledge, Jamie was kind of famous, I felt like, and I was there with him. It was a good feeling.
Another time, maybe the same weekend, Jamie took Forrest, Mary and I to the legendary Sugar Doe Cafe, to see David Grubbs and and some major dude who had something to do with Tony Conrad, the minimalist giant (though I knew none of this particularly at the time). I stuck close to Jamie, a little uneasy awash in this sea of ideosyncratic arty strangers, many of whom greeted Jamie by name. And as we pushed our way back into the performance space in the back, I was in awe of what I saw, to this day: A room full of people, mostly younger than me, sitting quietly on the floor, in rapt attention, listening to David play some of the most atonal introspective “music,” I’d ever heard.
It wasn’t just the music. It was the whole scene. Why weren’t these “rock kids” drunk? bored? talking amoungst themselves? I was in awe of it. Again, it was like another planet. The Planet Louisville. The Planet Jamie. And it opened a myriad of doors for me into musical worlds not yet explored. Jamie was always doing that for me.
The next day, we returned to the Sugar Doe for a fantastic brunch (unearthly music at night? amazing brunch the next day? what is this place?!) and Jamie seemed to know everybody. He was always greeted warmly and again, I was his friend. I felt special.
Mary and I recalled this story with great fondness the other day. We both had no idea what we were getting into, but in somewhat different ways: she was a self-described “bar-band girl,” and I thought myself to be a a wise, well-informed alt-music snob. But Jamie had a way of showing me how little I knew. Without the least bit of hipper-than-thou, Jamie was just showing—and sharing—his interests, his curiosities… and leaving the conclusions to you.
I try to practice this in my life, too, but I never realized how much of that attitude I learned from Jamie.
(shared from The Jamer Way, a photo and recollection blog)