On The Passing of Local Music Writer Lee Jackson, and Six Degrees of Separation
I didn't know Lee Jackson, a North Texas music writer who passed away on Sunday after a battle with ALS. But the number of mutual friends we have dictates we were most likely in the same room or at the same show in Austin at some point, where he lived in the early Aughts, distanced by the six degrees that bind music scenes.
Lee (left) and Jonathan Horne in Austin
I know I'd read pieces he wrote for Foxy Digitalis, and felt the same way about this album, but the more I perused his blog, the more I was pelted with nostalgia, as I tried to recall those hazy Austin nights when I'd be at Church of the Friendly Ghost or another like-minded DIY venue. Aaron Mace, longtime organizer for CotFG, was at a loss too.
"I wish I knew him," he related. "One of those brilliant people that's like a quiet, secret museum."
Jackson had been living in Dallas at the time of his passing, which I didn't know either. I would have liked to have met him, and talked about quiet, secret museum things. Funny, given that Jackson often wrote about the harshest: Noise, chaos, drone.
I perused his Facebook page, which is always eerie after someone has passed, but has become a modern-day form of mourning. I wasn't surprised to find it magnified my own outre musical interests down to the pore. There was a picture of him with my good friend, Austin musician Jonathan Horne. I started feeling heartsick for someone I'd never met. The universe has that funny way of tilting its head every now and then.
Here's what Jackson's good friend and musical brother in arms Michael Chamy had to say about about him, via Facebook:
"You just can't live in Texas ... if you don't gotta lotta soul ...." (Sir Doug Sahm)
Lee had it. He actually understood that the same soul exists in the outlaw artists he loved (Sahm, Townes, Blaze) and the third eye kosmick we mostly know him for .... like the great TX ST 37, whose Scott Telles first introduced me to Lee at the Einsturzende Neubauten show in Austin, Lee in his emblematic shorts and black-T, in this case that fine ST silver-on-black Hawkwind homage.
That was like 10 years ago and I was still in Austin writing about music. Somebody once said I had "big ears." Not next to Lee. LEE was a musical dumbo. I remember that first night at the House of Tinnitus, re-meeting Lee, finding out his love for the drone, the NZ, and THE CLEAN.
Waxing poetically about Sir Doug during set breaks at a noise show? Lee, you gotta lotta soul.
I can't believe how much you understood what we were trying to do with Zanzibar and the rest. Maybe it takes a love for the drone AND the Doug. Or, maybe it's that thing where you get that it's part of an unspoken game where you make music that's fun to write about. And then you take the bait as a joke, but MAN you do it 100% with soul.
How do you write about infinity? Lee has actually gotten to the brink. A GREAT scribe who loved to share.
If you ask me, infinity sounds like the womblife, birthing that extradimensional Texas nexus where Sir Doug and the Clean tune to the same frequency of the soul.
I'm going to see the Clean this summer in Austin after years of Dunedin dreaming, and Lee, I hope you're up in the VIP seats knocking Pearls with Sir Doug.
Drone On, you ...
Scott Telles, bassist and singer for Austin's ST 37, had this to say: "I was not really that close to Lee but I will say this. His musical taste and savvy was such that whenever I saw him in attendance at a band's gig, I knew that this was a happening show, a special event, that this band really had something great to contribute, because Lee did not go out to see crappy bands. His endorsement, whether in print in one of his many excellently-written reviews, or in person, really meant something. His enthusiasm for the music he loved was infectious and I simply can't believe he's gone so soon."
A Facebook group has been created for memories and remembrances, and Chamy mentions a digital compilation is in the works too, with proceeds being donated to the ALS Association and its North Texas chapter.
"I volunteered Zanzibar Snails for that," Chamy adds. "My bandmate and local super poster artist Nevada Hill is doing the artwork."
The Clean's show in June, part of the always-fantastic Chaos in Tejas fest (yes, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments are opening for them), was already something I'd been squealing about for months. Now there's even more of a cosmic nudge to be there.