Arthur readers and alike, I spoke with Jay this morning and the sad news is circulating that guitarist Jack Rose (b. February 16, 1971) has passed on to the next realm. It’s with a heavy heart that I say this, but thoughts and prayers are with family and loved ones. He had fans around the world and everyone should know about Jack and his music.  His style is like no other.

“Now That I’m a Man Full Grown”


“Little Sadie”


photo at top of post by Dan Cohoon

Categories: Byron Coley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 123 Comments

About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

123 thoughts on “REMEMBERING JACK ROSE…

  1. I met him and saw him play around November, 2 years ago, in Austin, TX, after my gig. He seemed like a nice guy. His playing was great – very clean. Blew away the first two guys who opened the show, with what noise they were making.
    He will be missed. I was anxious to hear what came after Kensington.

  2. It is hard to believe it is true. I picture Jack bright red and impossibly tall and big, putting his arm around a friend, smiling, in a bar, dwarfing the friend and buying him a drink. Roaring. Whenever he played live, seeing the man himself hold the guitar and make those songs out of it made it all the more mysterious and beautiful. He made the guitar seem so small and fragile, like he could snap the neck in his hand as easily as a toothpick, but instead the sound combined the ferocity of a giant and the delicate, dogged perfection of something very complicated and small, the strings sounding out DNA helices weaving around each other or atoms spinning. Just perfect to see and hear. You could play anyone Jack’s music and they could hear how incredible he was, my father could hear it, room mates who mostly hated what I listened to; there was no context necessary, no set of presumed references: people just knew they were hearing something singular and perfect. Unlike the stereotype of inherently gifted people, Jack Rose was a person who knew how to have a good time and make everyone around him have a good time. Specifically a force and catalyst to laughter and more whiskey and the best kind of fights, the best kinds of food. One night at his and Laurie’s he made meatball pizzas for Ben and I after a show. He made the meatballs and the dough from scratch, and they were the greatest homemade pizzas I have ever had. He dominated the small kitchen and refused help while we sat in the next room drinking the booze he got us. He and Laurie were so kind, it felt like being home for a night. It was a very happy night.
    Arriving in a town after Jack Rose had recently played was funny. Inevitably a host or a promoter would mention he had recently been there, and it would be followed with their amazement at meeting this lion of a person, especially in Europe, some of them just having heard his records and not being able to reconcile such a juxtaposition of forces. When they told their stories about him their faces would be somewhere between someone talking about fireworks or the ocean, and just plain confusion. Always laughter. He hooked into people’s guts through the the sheer preposterous vitality that he walked through the world with, and that shot through his playing. In the way I think of him, he was a person who seemed extra alive. The way Jack talked about guitar playing and music was inspiring to me. He was so meticulous and so free at the same time, two opposite things with just their velocity in common. After a show he wrote something nice, and I have never forgotten what he said, even though it was just a couple of lines 4 years ago. That someone so skilled and singular of vision could be so generous gave me faith when I didn’t have it. You could mentally tell a lot of people to fuck off if Jack Rose ever told you he liked it. He did that for a lot of people, was sure for them, when they were not.
    When Jack played in Oakland a year or two ago there was this yahoo in the audience shooting his mouth off, maybe trying to rile Jack up, yelling and trying to give him shit about some guitar thing and just running his mouth. Jack was like, ‘ok man, what is your problem?  You want to talk?  Talk.  What do you need to say?  This is your show now, we will just be quiet and listen to you.’  And of course as soon as he wasn’t on the sidelines but the silent focus of the whole audience’s attention he kind of beeped out a few things and choked.  Jack said ‘what are you drinking?’ and the kid help up a can of Sparks. Jack and everybody started laughing and Jack was like ‘ok, great, you had your say, now shut the fuck up.’ And he just dove into this really beautiful song. The kid either shut up or was shuffled out, I don’t remember, because the playing blanked out the rest. It was so awesome.  That was the gentleness and honesty and the unfuxwithableness of him, and all those things at once. Later, Ben and I were reliving the moment and there was this character there who was really into ‘yoga’ and they were like, ‘oh he should not have acknowledged that disturbance, it was beneath him, his performance was on a higher plain and that brought him down to this other level’. Missing the point completely, of how present and truthful and unpretentious and un-precious he was as a person and a musician. And that there was no bringing that playing down. I feel blessed to have met Jack. I am so sorry to Laurie. His recent happiness in his life and work made me feel like the world wasn’t such a bad place if someone with his kindness and integrity could be given the credit and joy he was due. I feel blessed recordings exist of his playing, of him joking around. He was a huge, epic figure who cut a good hole in the bad fabric and was supposed to be alive for a very long time.

  3. Elisa: thank you for having the erudition to say what i couldn’t. What a giant in every sense.

    Our UK tour last month was one of the happiest times of my life, bar none. That trip felt sainted somehow, so free of hassles — I’m happy to have been there, to have shared & created music with such a force of nature.

    Jack loved witty quips. He recently finished a biography of Jimmy Martin and loved to quote from it, particularly Jimmy’s answer to an interviewer’s question: “Who’s your favorite country artist?” “George Jones” “Why?” “Because he’s the best.” Jack would tell that and do the Jack-shrug of the shoulders as if to say “what the fuck, of course.”

    At the moment I just keep thinking of that and one other totally purile moment. Mike and Jack and I were chilling out in Mike’s living room with two of their cats. Suddenly I look down and one cat is passed out while the other is, well, licking the sleeping cats balls. Just goin to town, seeming to enjoy it. The sleeping cat seemed so relaxed. I giggled and nudged Jack, pointing down at the scene. I have never heard the man laugh so hard. His whole body shook and he had to get up and leave the room to fight off a coughing fit.

    I love you Jack — your music, your energy, your absolute dedication to the power of bullshit-free art, to serving the Music and not letting stupid shit get in the way.

  4. jack was a real sweet heart. i got to hang out with him once in philly. we all drank some beers and he was a generous host. he was so excited to play some records for us. and he played the best stuff. he was honest. i never understand why this stuff happens. truly sad news. he impacted so many people. he will live on.

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  6. I first met Jack Rose in the May of 2004. I had been a fan of his recorded work for maybe a year at this time. “Red Horse White Mule” had hit hard, as had the notion of a guy laid off from his job as a line cook, honing his picking style over the course of a brutal Southern winter. He had been booked for a live radio session and I’d got wind of it somehow. I had called the station, asking whether it might be possible to get audience tickets for the Friday evening recording. They sounded a little confused, but I didn’t think too much of it, not least as they agreed to let me sit in on the session. I arrived with two friends, expecting some matinee gala crowd, all there to see and hear the foremost living exponent of transcendental blues guitar. It wasn’t what I had expected, there was no one there. The mic was live when we sloped into the room, we sat in silence, transfixed, ecstatic, in cascades of austere hillside mantras. The roar of the earth and the fury or the waterfall, carried through this vessel not 35 years old. Jack sat there on his stool, half glances and sometimes smiles cast around. When they shut the mic down there was perhaps ten seconds of silence. Then wild adulation, appreciation, deep friendships forged in seconds. We went out drinking that night. Crazy picaresque narratives, much like the river song flurries of earlier times. Tales of blues player long gone, modern city living, hopes, heartaches, drinking stuff.

    There was more the next day. Lap dog slide in a beer garden, we the luckiest fans you can imagine. Now friends with this hero, a grizzly bear with the kindest manners you ever saw. Extremely polite, but wholly animated, a gentleman and an auto didact scholar. Reverence, compassion and humanity, all so rare in these times of ours.

    I next saw Jack the following winter. He had some shows booked and sought alms in my crumbling Victorian apartment. No snow on the ground but a malignant January busy with sleet, icy wind and biting cold. He arrived with two guitars packed tight and a small bag filled with tee shirts that he’d printed up to sell on tour. We hung out a lot, barbeque steak in mid winter, thick jacketed potatoes steaming and bottles emptied. I remember working in my study one evening, hearing new refrains echoing from the kitchen. He was pulling together new pieces, more devastating still. It was like the sound that lies between between the rain and the rocks in winter downpour. To hear these melodies find form, come together, breathe with confidence and bluster, it was quite something.

    The first of the shows was on a Friday evening, upstairs in a spit and sawdust rock venue. He was supporting a scenester band with a noisy entourage. It was a weird dynamic, loud booze mouths shouting over Jack’s eloquent playing. He didn’t take to kindly to it;

    “ fucking shut up you gap tooth limey mother fuckers” , damn straight, matter of fact. But they didn’t really shut up and it was a shame. Those who cared apologised for the fat city attitude and he said it was pretty much the same in Philly or wherever else he played; right crowd, good times, wrong crowd, an ugly reminder that we’re all just beasts.

    He came back a few more times over the course of the following year, more fans each time, magazines picking up on his talent, hushed tones aplenty, the word going ‘round that he was the real deal. Yet his first festival booking involved a tiny make shift stage, rain pelted in to obscurity while the great and the good of whoever’s nepotism played to rapturous applause across the way. It seemed deeply inappropriate but he clearly didn’t care. The playing was what mattered.

    We then hung out in Austin and Rhode Island, good times. His star was rising, famous people paying homage to his amazing power but no change in Jack. He was unfazed by his growing celebrity and always viciously funny, waxing about the things that mattered to him as well as the things that disappointed him. A deeply honest reaching soul.

    By the time he next hit the UK, he was a fully accredited ‘star’ with packed out shows, press calls and a new elpee seemingly every second. It was great to see, not least because it was so well deserved. He was busy from then on in and I didn’t see him again properly until just a month a go. He’d just signed a new record deal and had also bought a house with Lori, his dearly loved wife. He was so happy about that, and I was delighted to see a friend really making it. He was in great spirits and seemingly in good health, playing in a trio, which showed a different side to his style and talent. This was fun stuff, jaunty and complicit, not the dark spiralling catharsis of his solo extrapolations, a different wonderment. So, I said good night to Jack, laughter and fare thee well. See you soon, don’t leave it so long.
    Stuart Souter, London, 07/12/09

  7. Hey Jack,

    I’m writing to you now from Tel Aviv, Israel. It’s 22:15 and I had a really dreadful day.
    I woke up this morning and rushed out of the house to catch bus no. 129 that goes once in twenty minutes and it’s worth it to catch it, because his round is shorter until it reaches my destination.
    I arrived to my office, and minded my own business, like any old blues tune that starts with someone who wakes up in the morning and minds his own business.
    After couple of hours in the office, I received an email from a friend who asked me if I heard the tragic news of the morning, and that you’ve died. A heart attack in the age of 38. Heavy.

    I was devastated. The day continued with the daily troubles, like that old blues tune. I’ve never been to Mississippi, but those who were there said that this is what the blues really like.
    So I think it’s fair to say that you were the reason for my first authentic blues. Not the kind of blues of scales and three chords. A real blues. Rooted. Full of scotch. Full of cigarettes. Tom Waits kinda blues. Mississippi Fred kinda blues. Jack Rose kinda blues.

    Three years ago, I went with Rockfour to record in abbey Road studios, they won a competition. A day before I travelled in Piccadilly area and saw a poster saying you’re playing tonight. I didn’t know you, but I knew you’re brilliant. After twelve hours of Abbey Road, I went to see your gig. I remember that show. I hope you do too. First, Ignatz was on stage, with his tape loops and battered guitar. He was excellent. I went to the wardrobe to hang my coat, and I gave it to the guy who was standing there. It happened to be you. Sorry for that.
    Only when you went onstage I realized the wardrobe guy is you. I remember you started your show with the acoustic slide and you produced sounds of lost souls who were trapped in the room from 300 years ago, in old Europe, looking for exit stage left. And you squeezed these strings and the Holy Ghost was flying above. I remember these moments, when I realized that everything I thought is true, is really false.

    Then you took your six strings guitar and played a Fahey number, so you said. I had no idea back then what is a ‘Fahey’. But I realized that if that’s a Fahey, I need some of that in my life. I sipped more from my Whisky and kept starring at you, like an eight year old child who sees his neighbors fucking in the window. I knew I shouldn’t stare and I was also afraid. But I kept on starring and couldn’t take my eyes of you. A big man, bearded, with long hair that needed no crossroad or meetings with the devil to win his talent, to (really) know the blues.

    Then you took the slide guitar again and played a twenty minutes raga, or at least it felt that long. In the first 1/3 of the piece, the forty people in the audience were still standing there. 2/3 of the piece, half of them left. In the last 1/3, only few crazy hypnotized fans kept standing there. There was a total blindness in the room, real clashes of truths and colors, and that repetitive sound of a groove supported by two D tuned strings. By now I knew Bert Jansch and considered myself a guitarist. In the end of that raga, I knew shit. All my consciousness was thrown to the trash can, and all my perception of music was down the drain.

    I left the room dazed. The Yair who went inside isn’t the one that left. I felt the deads are alive again and got into my fingers. And I thought I am the blues as well. I was wrong. The next day I went to one of the guitar shops on Denmark Street and bought myself a resonator square neck. I remember I decided that from now on, fuck everything, I’m in the blues. I say goodbye to cappuccino, start drinking black coffee, more sour whisky, smoke much more, play and waiting for it to happen to me too. For the melancholy to hit me as well. For the truth to show its ugly face. For the sarcasm to completely go away. To stop being white. With glasses. To be the real thing. You see Jack, I thought the blues symbols and aesthetics are the real thing. I was wrong.

    When I was back home, I got your first LP as a present. The Tequila Sunrise release, limited edition, 180g. I remember the needle drops on the surface of the vinyl, and the first notes of Levee enter. That dynamite open-G tuning, that definite sound that’s relevant to 2006 Tel Aviv as much as it’s for 1925 Fishtown. That takes my heart and sacrifices it on the altar, for a silly deal with god that will never happen, with god, where I give up all my sins and in return I get the talent and the blues. I was wrong.

    I remember that couple of days later, I bought Glenn Jones’ first album as well. Discovering you two reminded me that day I first bought Bert Jansch solo album and Jackson C. Frank’s. The day my life changed forever. I remember I constantly listened to your album and I didn’t understand. I tried to understand the Sisyphean reality that makes a piece like Revolt to sound like it is. How you stood in the bottom of the mountain and tried to push that heavy rock uphill, which is the mission of carrying the Takoma torch, the revival of that style. And you pushed and pushed and made a career out of it. A bluesman that got recognition of his greatness while still living. It’s gotta be a post-modern thing. I thought that if my life is hazy and full of contradictions, it’s similar to that big rock you pushed. I was wrong.

    After two years, I found myself with couple of your albums on the shelf, two acoustic slide guitars and square-neck resonator sitting in the closet, waiting for it’s time of revelation. I remember the day in the studio when we recorded the slide tracks. I remember me and Ronen the engineer, listening to a bad take of Sympathy For The Jack and it just didn’t hit. I insisted on trying again and again and imagined you drinking whisky. After all, Jack Daniels and Jack Rose are what this piece is all about. And I tried to forget about work, and create a vacuum where only you and the lying scotch exist. I thought I managed to get rid of the sarcasm for good. I was wrong.

    And I remember you said about me ‘this guy really know how to play guitar’. And Jack, I remember that three days I couldn’t whip that smile off my face. And I tried, believe me I tried. The blues doesn’t work for smiling people, that’s why I’m wrong all the time. Get a slap in the face from reality, smile, and move on. I wish I could devote myself to the pain, and become one with it, but I can’t. I managed to do it once, years ago, when I was still a solider. It doesn’t work anymore, the mechanism is broken. All that’s left are stinky bitter smiles that have no truth whatsoever. They don’t have the falling apart element.
    Someone once offered me to scream into a closet, said it’ll set me free. I smiled. It was a sarcastic smile. The blues departed from me again. I was wrong again.
    And I remember I sent my cd to my favorite guitarists and Glenn Jones said some really nice words about the album. Can you believe it? Glenn, whom together with you made me understand I don’t have to sing at all and just shut up and play my guitar?
    And I remember I sent Greg Weeks two copies, one of them was for you. Until this day I have no idea if you got it, as you didn’t write and Greg said you’re not really a person of computers and emails. It wouldn’t matter anyway. I didn’t need that email from you. I just wanted you to hear, to see how crucial you are in my life and that I dedicated a song to you.
    I was wrong. And I’m lying now. I wanted you to reply.

    And I remember how couple of months ago, Glenn wrote me that the two of you are working together on a DVD to be released in 2010, and I knew it’ll be a great year. With that DVD, a new album from you, a new album released in end of 2009 of Glenn – yea, it would become a year of inspiration.
    And I planned Jack, to bring you here to Tel Aviv, to play two shows, and offer a double bill tour in Europe. To chunkies with beards. But then I saw you shaved.
    I planned for you to come here and I’ll take you to eat the best Hummus in the country, and to see Jerusalem and introduce you to the scene here and then when you’ll be back to Fishtown, you’ll tell everybody how amazing Tel Aviv is, and how it’s nothing like it seems in the news, and how cultural it is, and full with beautiful ladies and great food and that although you only had 15 people in the show, it was worth it to come.

    And then I woke up in this chilly morning and almost missed bus no. 129 and then I heard you died. And I sent mails to everyone, saying my condolences. To Glenn, to Erik from Immune, Mark from Bo’Weavil and Dom from The Great Pop Supplement who planned on releasing my and your 7’’ together, and I couldn’t be happier by that.
    And now everyone will be in your funeral, and someone will play Revolt, and I’ll be stuck here in ugly Tel Aviv and will feel like the rejected kid that all his classmates went to the mall without inviting him.
    And then I’ll feel, Jack, then I’ll feel the blues. Because in the end of the day, that solitary, this is the blues. And your death, just sewing it all together, and makes my blues finally authentic.

    Now I am mature. Now I know I’m right.

    Rest in peace, big guy.

  8. I stop checking the internets and emails when I leave work on fridays, so this is new to me monday morning… and what a shitty way to start the week. really, he was one of the rare ones; what a great loss to the world of music. Thankfully I’ve seen him quit a few times (including terrastock! yay!), but am now missing not being able to see him again…

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  11. Por desgracia, casi siempre me encuentro con noticias de muerte, justo cuando ocurren, y ayer me enteré de la de Jack. Vi muchos mensajes para él, sin embargo, no supe que decir. La partida de alguien siempre duele, y más aún si es alguien joven. Jack lo era. La distancia geográfica me impidió poder verle, la lejanía es grande. Pero eso no impidió escuchar sus canciones, y esa distancia inicial se hizo mas corta al oírlas. Jack tocaba como si estuviera al aldo tuyo, era parte de cualquier lugar, de cualquier sitio. Era el sonido de la tierra. Era la tierra misma. Ahora no ha hecho más que volver a ella, a su hogar.

    Jack, no te conocí, pero eso no quita que me de pena que no estes aquí.

    Descansa en paz, Jack.

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  13. Elisa, what a wonderful eulogy–a bear of a man indeed, the most tender barrel full of dynamite in a land rife with impotence. You knew Jack a bit better than I, but I too had the great fortune of spending some time with him over the years, drinking whiskey, dodging hippies, getting joyfully cranky and crankily joyful too–and, best of all, to hear and see the man play.

    I first met Jack years ago at the very first Arthur Mag festival here in Los Angeles. This nasty hippie horde/parade with full bells on rolled through the backstage/band area and Jack and I just sat in the corner and drank a bottle of whiskey I’d smuggled in and cracked wise and howling at the absurdity of life and the sheer solace found in both giving and in not giving a shit.

    The night before that Arthur fest was the first time I saw Jack play–I’d already been a fan of his records–it was at Spaceland, a kind of pre-Arthur fest round-up, and it was just fucking incredible to see Jack single-handedly/single-instrumentally CRUSH the likes of Wolfmother and whatever else.

    Yes, Jack could charm the gods, and he could make the devil run.

    A gunslinger of the highest order, his music has just slayed and inspired so many, and–the legacy is out there for all takers to bend an ear around–will continue to do so.

    Best wishes most of all to his wife, and also to the network of family and friends.

    It’s strange and sad when the young and the godlike-talented get called up by the Dark Magnet, but I guess now Jack will have to kick God’s ass in Heaven.

    R.I.P., Jack. Go get Him.


  14. Jack and Christina Carter were kind enough to come up to play at my little restaurant in Boone, NC back in 2005. It was a small show, but Jack was so friendly and kind and played two amazing sets. I got to share dinner with the two of them and sent them off to stay at a friends house for the night. I was in awe at his playing and awfully friendly demeanor. It was a pleasure to meet him.
    I’ll be putting my Opiuum Music lp on tonight in his memory.

  15. Was lucky enough to see Jack play at Terrastock 2008 (and with Pelt as well), and began to collect his records.

    Just saw him not two months ago, near the end of his tour. Despite being obviously tired, and it being a quiet Sunday night, he delivered a blisteringly great set in Bloomington, IN to a crowd of around 30 or 35. Towards the end of the set, he played a 15-minute composition, that, at the end, cause a dude near the front of the stage, to immediately stand up, start clapping, and let out an unbridled “Yeah…Yeah!!!”

    Seeing the news this morning made me incredibly sad, but thankful I was able to travel out-of-town to see him recently.

    Like most of the rest of you, I’ll be spinning his LP’s tonight.

  16. “The very sight of that old bastard makes me happy for five days. No bloody fooling.” – overheard comment about author malcolm lowry; it also personally applies here with respect to jack

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  18. if y’all dont mind, i’m gonna relate a few funnier jack moments because its about the only thing keeping me going right now

    — one time jack paid me 20quid on stage in glasgow to tell a dirty joke. as in, between songs he throws it down on the floor and dares me to do it. i do it and he seemed really pleased.

    — the first time jack saw my mini-washboard he scoffed and said ‘what is that, like..’my first washboard?”

    — jack was sitting outside of mike’s front door, smoking and watching chickens run around. i drive up, nod hello, and as i walk up to him he says ‘you know man, chickens are pretty fucking cool’

    — one time jack gave me a fist bump after coming back from a public toilet because he was psyched as to how clean it was

    — jack wanted to turn the shred shed in ironto into a juke joint. maybe we still will.

    — jack’s attitude towards philly pizza was, like, masonic in its bizarre unsaid codes and rituals. before taking us to one particular spot (where they put the sauce on top of the cheese, thin crust, etc) he began to verbally set down the rules in no uncertain terms: if you’ve never eaten there, your first pie HAS to be the plain tomato pie. absolutely no toppings. he did this twice in my company, and both times some of the other people in our party were like ‘what the fuck jack?’. he would just reply with what i remember as the ‘jack shrug’, a kind of heads-down shrug of the shoulders and a glare from those small eyes of his that said ‘what the fuck, you know im right’. and he was. the tomato pie was the shit.

    – soon after we met & recorded he mistakenly referred to me as ‘sean’ in the dr. ragtime & his pals notes. after initially apologizing (he had known another sean bowles in some other town), he decided itd be better if we just jokingly refer to me as sean for awhile. i was fine with it. ive referred to myself as sean at least once since he passed.

    thanks jack.

  19. If I may offer a Jack story.

    Jack came through Florida to play a few shows on this last tour. He stayed with us for the St Pete and Sarasota shows. The St Pete gig was cool, a great little place called the Hideaway Cafe that was perfectly suited with a wonderful vibe, cool crowd and craft beer. And, I got a great recording of it.

    Sarasota, however, was a different story. It was at New College. First, we went to the house of the guys who were hosting the show. It was one of those nasty college duplexes with pizza boxes and dog hair and ratty couches. He pointed at the couch and said, “I’m glad I don’t have to sleep here tonight”.

    We went over to the venue, a tiny little rec center on campus, only to learn that jack was to play 3rd with a lineup of 3 doom metal bands. He talked them into letting him play second and got paid in advance.

    The first band was called Skunk Ape and I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard anything worse. I recorded it anyway (if anyone is interested).

    Before he played, Jack took all but one guitar back out to the car.

    When he got up to play, the place was full of drunk teenagers who were louder than even ol’ Skunk Ape. The PA was so bad that Jack could not get a decent sound. Since the bathroom was behind him, people had to almost step over him and bumped him several times as he played.

    He played a couple of short tunes, maybe 15 minutes. I was sitting near the back and I saw him nod to me in a way that said, “get ready”. He finished his tune, snatched up his guitar and we dashed.

    We got out to the car and a couple of the kids followed us out. Apparently they were fans who had been at the St Pete show. They knew the deal and even bought a bunch of vinyl from him. We laughed all the way back to St Pete. Worst Gig Ever! The guys that hosted the show were cool and really meant well but it was just not a good match.


  20. Rest in peace, big fella. These tributes are heartwarming; I wish I knew him better, but I’m just happy to have met the gentle giant.

    Privileged to have seen a few shows, particularly an absolutely amazing 30-minute set opening for Peter Walker in Nov. 2006 here in Eureka, CA.

  21. jack at 21 grand in oakland, a couple years ago, to drunk heckler: “what are you drinking?”
    heckler: “sparks”
    jack: “sparks? only douche bags drink sparks”
    heckler: “are you calling my mother a douche bag?”
    jack: “no, i’m calling you a douche bag”

    rest in peace

  22. First met, heard, Jack at Brian Faulkner’s house in Sacramento. My wife, Claudia, was up in Humboldt county helping out our daughter-in-law with the birth of our first grandchild. After a righteous barbeque, most folks packed into the living room for the music. Unable to find a seat, I reclined on the glider on the back porch, and was transported by Jack’s music, augmented with the wind blowing through the trees and a far off train whistle. Fortunately the evening’s music was recorded and the resulting CD will always be one of my prized possesions. Jack Rose, thank you for gracing our world!

  23. So sad. I knew Jack while he was living in Richmond, VA and a member of the band Ugly Head. Great guy. I remember him wanting to take the Jandek LPs from the local college radio station library. We’d often joke about that later. I mostly lost track of Jack after he moved out of Richmond, but I got to dine with him and a friend two years ago and catch up a little. I regret that I never got to see his post-Ugly Head, post-Pelt performances. But it’s wonderful to know how much he touched other people’s lives. Peace, my friend.

  24. I remember that Oakland show at 21 Grand, and this is my memory of it:

    Jack just finished along, powerful piece of music and needed a beer:

    Jack: (Slurred) I need a fuggin beer

    Someone in the back: There’s no beer left!

    Douchebag: (British accent) Drink some of THIS

    Jack: Whatiz that shit???

    D Bag: it’s SPARKS (pronounced SPAHX)

    Jack: Only douchebags drink that shit (accepts glass of whiskey from somone else)

  25. Pingback: R.I.P. « Bitch du Jour

  26. i’ve been wandering around in a daze since saturday… jack and i led parallel lives, for years and years we had a mutual appreciation, but it was always from afar… and whenever we would literally cross paths, it always felt like we spent more time together than we did. but about 5 or 6 years ago we began to run into each other more, and spend more time together… the parallels were angling a bit toward one another, and a few years ago they crossed in a major way… i got to tour with jack, play music with him, record him and most importantly, spend more time with him. we joked about naming the back road route from philly to westtown “the pizza – bbq thruway”… the last time i saw jack, he was at the studio to finish his thrill jockey record… i loved working with jack… he brought his no bullshit outlook straight into the chair he sat on in the studio… some cold lord chesterfields, his guitars, some mics, maybe some friends, lay it down… no good? lay it down again… how about now? we’d always know when he got it… we’d just look at each other through the glass and nod, i’d reach over to ask him if he wanted to come in an hear that one, but by the time my finger hit the talkback button, he was already on his way into the control room… so the last time he was here, it was just him. he shows up and promptly hands me a brown bag… “i brought rum, since i know you’re the rum bum… i got some killer bourbons on the road that i was not going to bring you! sorry! (laughs) so i got this instead…” 15 year haitian dark… after we finished the record, we sat across from each other and polished that bottle off… we were so happy with the new music… he had a gig the next day down the jersey shore… at 6 am we parted… drunkenly, and maybe because of it, i told him i loved him and gave him a big hug goodbye…

    some things i’ll remember –

    hearing “sundogs” for the first time at tommy’s tavern… the sheer physicality of that music was overwhelming…

    sitting outside of the performance area with hans in st louis listening to jack control different frequencies like a marionette puppeteer… and the look of joy on his face the next day at smoki o’s…

    watching him play telecaster on “the longer you wait” at black dirt…

    in louisville… jack ragtiming zeppelin for moose who was sitting out in the car checking his pulse…

    sitting on the outdoor deck at standard tap… jack smoked a cig, finishes it… someone else lights up and immediately a waiter is on us… “sorry, you can’t smoke here”… the man was a kingpin!

    sitting at the bar at the empty bottle talking about guitars…

    that night in the crappy motel on tour where we all told road stories…

    watching jack and laurie dance to soul music the last time i was in philly…

    and so much more… and there was so much more to come…

    i’ll miss you jack…

  27. one of the more recent stories i have of jack was when we were outside of kung fu necktie smoking cigarettes and looking over the upcoming calendar, remarking on the amount of terrible band names. i said he should know about bad band names: his first band was called “ugly head”. and he had to concede that i was right.

  28. Pingback: Jack Rose RIP - aberdeen-music

  29. I’m doing a radio show tribute on Thursday morning in Austin. If anyone has any song recommendations or wants to call in to talk about Jack, let me know. You can email me at or listen in at on Thursday from 7-9 am CST. Sorry it’s so early.

  30. I took every opportunity available to see Jack play. As a guy starting out with the American Primitive style, I was in awe of how clean and fluid Jack’s playing was. And that says nothing for his skills as a songwriter, which were impeccable. I feel that Jack was able to negotiate between Fahey and Basho like no one else, while simultaneously drawing from his own interests, which were more oldtime.

    I’m happy to have seen Jack play solo, and with Glenn Jones, and with Pelt. One of my goals in life was to get good enough to play with him; my hope is that someday I’ll feel like I got there. I only met him a couple of times, but I won’t forget him.

  31. Well, i can’t tell you what a rough last 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, 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 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.
    i managed to sneak an audio memorial at the end of my radio show segment Sunday, archived here:

  32. I just saw him at Abrons Art Center. Probably the 5th or 6th time I’ve seen Jack Rose play. Excellent, consistent, mesmerizing. I cannot believe he’s gone. What a fucking bummer.

  33. Memories:

    late 90s: My sister would drive us to various points between DC and NYC as I stalked Pelt. They could levitate me. We once got a flat in the snow on a highway not far from Philly heading to New York. I thought for sure I was going to die changing the tire on the skinny shoulder. We did not turn around.

    1999: After I finally scrounged together the money to pay them (for a stunning performance), Pelt told me how they had been planning to pelt me with a watermelon if I didn’t pay them. I don’t know where they got the watermelon but in my memory it was big enough to kill me.

    2000: Got to hang out some with Jack and Laurie and bask in their hospitality, courtesy of Ian Nagoski. Hear of Jack’s mythical Majora collection. Bonding over Fred Neil.

    2000: Jack & Ian install me in a corner at the Astrocade in Philly with Donald Miller, introducing us to each other as the two biggest Scott Walker fans in the room. Donald’s favorite is Scott 1. I’m listening to Donald and thinking to myself how good my life is. I made about $6,000 in income that year and spent all of it on alcohol.

    2001: Borrowed Jack’s 10 inch of Kendra Smith’s “Guild of Temporal Adventurers” and kept it for way too long. To make up for it I gave him an early Kevin Coyne lp, which he subsequently mentioned every time I saw him after that, hilariously mangling the name in a new way each time.

    2002 – 2004: Don’t see Jack much but all conversations revolve around John Martyn.

    2004: Doc Watson’s pub., upstairs, a very cold February night. It seemed like only months before I had seen him nervously play his first solo guitar gig (don’t remember where or when, just know it was his first). A young Russian woman opens for Jack and plays an extremely long set. By the time Jack starts playing everyone is drunk. About half-way through the set I am hammered, and I hear a holy Terry Riley-like droning sound coming from the stage. I think someone has joined Jack on stage. A friend points out that it is just Jack and his guitar on his lap. I stare around the room in disbelief. Levitation. I realize Jack is a living guitar God and that I am blessed to bask in his sound.

    2005: After another amazing show I tell Jack in all seriousness that the next time I see him he’ll be on Sony and playing in a stadium. He assures me that would not happen. I hope he knew what I meant: that he had been lifting my soul out of my body already in 1998 and that he had made astounding musical strides since then. To me, he was freedom, and I suspected that freedom would be contagious.

    2006-2009: Having become a hermit, I would only see Jack occasionally though we lived in the same city. I was always happy to hear another awesome tour story.

    I will miss him greatly.

    Much love to Laurie and all his friends and family.

  34. like to everyone else, the news came like a bolt out of nowhere. my initial reaction was that it must be a mistake, an internet hoax perhaps… but it is real. a few years back I had the pleasure of working with Jack and found him to be a gentleman; generous and considerate, focussed and professional. We shared wine, talked music and his untimely departure has undoubtedly left a massive void in a world which desperately needs more integrity and sincerity. I will be playing my tribute to him on the radio tonight 9th December, details at

  35. Wow, just learned about this today and it’s pretty unreal. I’ve got all kinds of fond memories of charming and quirky encounters that could go on for paragraphs, but above all I want to testify to the music itself, because I’ve heard people talk down about Jack’s solo work. I spent many hours genuinely transported and enraptured by his music, live and on recording, especially the Kensington Blues album, which became a major staple go-to album for me, a private mega-classic, an old friend that lifted my spirit every time. I’ve often had thoughts like “This is timeless music I will be listening to for the rest of my life”, and it’s a safe bet that’s true, which is a pretty big deal because there’s a lot of great music in the world always waiting around the corner. To me he was the real deal, a huge raw bundle of human beauty coming out through the fingers.

    Jack would always speak reverently about the cats from the pre-electronic era (he told me once: “Charley Patton is the greatest musician that ever lived, end of story”). I always thought of him as one of those cats, the same kind of soul managing to exist in the modern world. He was pure, if that concept could possibly be defended. I’m talking about the music and the person as one package here.

    I can remember times at gigs when some people would be talking and not really paying attention to Jack’s set (well, not to mention other people’s sets too), especially people in our local scene who took him for granted, but every time that sound hit my ears I was sucked into a different zone and I felt something magical and rare happening, that I was hearing some of the best music of a generation. I tapped into Jack’s music when the solo acoustic phase started; I still haven’t heard Pelt, but I heard lots of local stories and legends attesting to their greatness. Someday I will hear that music and get a more complete picture of Jack’s art. I remember that night at the Astrocade nine years ago with Ian and Donald Miller that Will mentions in the comment above–must’ve been the first time I crossed paths with Jack; I remember that stupidly loud e-bow drone wank set and how turned off I was by the drunkenness and nihilism I perceived in that group of people, but looking back I know that wasn’t representative of Jack’s muse. Jack loved his friends and the pure process of hanging out and playing music with them. He was incredibly humble and supportive of kindred musicians, whether it was joining them for a few pieces during their set or vice versa. Sometimes gentle, sometimes gruff, he was a real catalyst for his musical community.

    Jack and me were always like oil and water, about as opposite as possible in almost every way, but our conversations grew warmer as the years went by, especially as I became a genuine fan of his music and we both valued that simple, honest bond of loving that music and having a good heart. We were the kind of friends that could never be buddies, as in just hanging out and shooting the breeze, but there was a real soft spot in our hearts way beneath the surface of the polite pleasantries we exchanged.

    He loved The Doors; I was bored by raunch. I loved bands like Yes and a million other things he had gallons of colorful bile to spew on. He hung his hat on the whole druggy droney side of underground music; I was usually bored by it. He hated Derek Bailey and any kind of plink ‘n plonk, scratch ‘n sniff free improv, while I found spiritual transcendence in it and molded my life around it. He loved to smoke and drink beer; I’ve never sampled cigarettes or alcohol in my life. He loved to eat, make and talk about pizza; I was the gluten-free nutrition snob eating sprouts and raw liver. I loved science, complexity, abstraction, analysis, post-modern language games and other nonsense; he was a no-nonsense guy who valued honest, direct, and emotional experience. I could go on with these sorts of observations, but it’s mainly just stuff to laugh about because Jack was united with me and many other diverse people by huge amounts of beauty and love.

    The last year that I spent around Philly I happened to live half a block away from Jack, just around the corner from Cedar and Letterly. I used to ride my bike to sunbathe at the park everyday around noon, always taking the same route, which passed right by his house on the way back. It wasn’t rare to find him on his front steps taking a smoke. Sometimes we just waved; sometimes I got a little update on the latest touring and recording experiences. It was nice to have those reminders that such a person existed, making traditional human art despite living a city and a world filled with dirty, polluted, crass, trashy, soulless, trendy, consumerist, fashion-obsessed, fast-paced, high-tech junk. Crossing paths with Jack always sent my thoughts in a refreshing direction.

    Well, all kinds of other memories and thoughts, but I just wanted to say something quick and send a lot of love to my friends in Philly who are suffering this loss in a big way.

  36. Saw Jack so recently, 3rd Nov at the fantastic Cafe Oto, London, stood outside had a drink together, had a smoke together, then he played, what a master magician musician. Can’t quite get over his death, mortality eh, one thing I do know is that people like Jack have an ability to transcend that mortality through their legacy. God bless you Jack for what you’ve given us.

  37. 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 say 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: ” 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 upon 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.

  38. Pingback: Remembering Jack Rose « Work & Worry

  39. Jack used to play an old silvertone amp in the early 90’s. He was a very clean guitarist, and was really precise at playing old school electric lead lines. He had a great feel for it. Excellent, actually.

    He wanted to be an archaeologist when he got to VCU but that changed pretty quickly. I talked him out of it. Looks like playing guitar was a better option.

    Jack is the protagonist in two great stories, not really repeatable but quite funny. One involved the line “…have you ever been really bored while driving?” and the other ended with “I’ve read books…”

    Hadn’t seen him in along time, like 15 years, but we were talking last week about booking a possible Richmond show… what would be a good venue, guarentees, etc.

    just found out about this mess tonight.

  40. 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,
    Im 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 Im 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 to wet here for them
    Id 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 Im 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.

    All my love to Laurie and both family’s and to everyone who loved him.

  41. Pingback: RIP Jack Rose (1971-2009) | URB.COM

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