Evolving Ear



JACK ROSE 1971-2009
(photo courtesy Ketih Wood)

Still processing the completely crushing news of the passing of the mighty Jack Rose, a great, great musician and an absolute giant of a person. I was acquainted with Jack over the years through music connections and mutual friends, having met at a party after a show in Philly about 5 years ago. It was during a... well, you could call it a debate about the merits (or lack thereof) of certain musicians in comparison to each other. I cannot remember a lot of the conversation, except for this unforgetable misspoken line of Jack's: "I don't care, man! Nothing matters except Pahey and Fatton!" I would come to know that the expression of deeply convicted opinions was one of Jack's most favorite pasttimes. He was a true scholar. And a gentleman. But I only lived in the same city as he for the last six months. Luckily for me, we got to see each other quite a bit. He and his wife Laurie could not have made me and my wife Maria feel more welcomed to a community, going the extra mile to hang out, sharing whiskey, introducing us to friends, offering advice, recommending places to get housemade sausage or good Pho, watching the World Series together, and on and on. He was one of 6 people (including Maria) who came to see me play a gig on a Monday at a somewhat less than inspiring local venue in Philly. After the set he said, "Awesome show, Chris. I'm sorry you had to play this shithole." Only three nights before that, on November 20, we shared the bill (along with Corridors) at Abrons Art Center in NYC, his final performance. Before the concert, the venue's tech director was trying to nail us to a curfew time for the show, and Jack volunteered that he could play a shorter set, no problem, though I was lobbying for full sets for all three acts . Then, at about 35 minutes into his set, he said "I'm gonna play one more." After that tune, he said "OK, I'm just gonna play one more song." This happened at least three times. He was enjoying playing and he just kept going. I feel fortunate to have witnessed those last songs. I know that Jack could be a gruff dude, but these past six months, he seemed to truly be in what could only be called a period of contentment - he and Laurie had recently bought a house, he was playing good gigs, having success, and had a new record in the can. He seemed happy and it showed. Jack's spirit and his music touched many people. There is now a massive void in Philadelphia (and beyond) and he is deeply, profoundly missed. Our hearts go out to Laurie and his family at this incredibly difficult time. Rest in peace, Jack.
-Chris Forsyth

JACK AT ABRONS ART CENTER, NYC, 11/20/09 (photo: Maria Dumlao)