Four-and-a-half years, twenty-eight cover stories, fifty-one monthly columns about jazz, and thirty-some-odd CD and concert reviews ago, I became a staff writer for Louisville Music News. This column (and the review of My Morning Jacket's latest release At Dawn later in this issue) marks my last appearance here. I have permanently retired from music journalism. No one has offered me a job writing for another publication in town. I've not met with any harsh, irresolvable conflict with a performer (I got that out of the way early in my tenure here). Nor have I clashed with any of my colleagues or the editorial staff.
Frankly, folks, I'm just plan ol' pooped out. And I thought I'd stop before my mind fizzled into a single dull cinder and my only means of communicating with people was with a hand puppet.
I never planned to get so involved in the periphery of an industry I knew about only through Rolling Stone and whatever CDs I'd buy. I have no journalistic training and my experience with performing was limited to the years I spent in the Doss High School Band. Still, I like music, I know music, I can form reasonably informed opinions, and I can write. In some societies that makes me a dangerous person. In this one, it makes me a critic. Sometimes one's just as bad as the other.
Admittedly, there are things I'll miss and things I won't. I never thought I'd meet so many distinctive people and get a chance to tell their stories. I will miss that. I never thought I'd be able to spend a late night in a place thick with noise, drunks, spilt beer and cigarette smoke and try to catch a single moment in a performance - the one incident, comment, musical epiphany, if you will, that defines artists and their work - so I could use it in a story. I won't miss that.
I came to this little sideline at a time when I was vulnerable, confused, emotionally exhausted and hurt. My marriage had augured in, my soon-to-be ex-wife was pregnant with our daughter, and I was working full time as a technical writer and part time as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble. I was presented with a chance to channel the little energy I had left into something different yet productive for me. I rode the momentum it generated into my first jazz column in April of 1997 (a piece on Ron Hayden, who had just released In the Spirit) and my first cover story (on Paul K and the Weathermen.) in August of that same year. I have come through it with a nice body of work and very few regrets. I would dishonor those who have helped me if I asked for anything more.
I want to personally thank a few of those people for their help in letting me bring a word or two to your eyes these past four-and-a-half years. Tony McDaniel for providing some insider's gossip. Ron Hayden for being the first. The folks at the Louisville Jazz Society for consistently letting me know about upcoming jazz events (I could always count on an email or two from them each month). Jeff Sherman, Jamey Aebersold and Mike Tracy for keeping me updated with their institutions' respective annual jazz events. Photographers Ralph Sidway and Jim Moses for visually illustrating what I tried to do with words. The people who have sent me CDs. And all the performers who have been willing to sit with me, my notepad, and my tape recorder. I hope you found my work useful to you. If I've forgotten anyone, insert your name here _______________ and remember that I'm trying to distill nearly five years of work in a few hundred words. I'm bound to forget somebody.
I also want to thank LMN Editor-in-Chief Paul Moffett for giving me a chance to appear in print, something that last happened to me when a short story of mine was published in a college literary magazine nearly twenty years ago. Apparently he liked what he saw when I sent in a pair of sample reviews. I thank him for the work with which he entrusted me. I'm glad I was associated with his and Jean Metcalfe's publication.
I also want to thank my colleague Mike Stout, the "Cowboy Corner" columnist who, one day when we were co-workers at Electronic Systems, USA, asked me the life-changing question, "So, what kind of music do you like?"
Finally, thanks to Laura, for reasons we both know.
Starting next month you'll be reading the words of WFPK's Rick Forrest in this column. His was the first name I thought of when Paul asked who should be my replacement. Rick's smooth wit will transfer easily from the airwaves to the printed page, just as long as he doesn't repeat the joke he used at the beginning of the CD review he sent in for this month.
For me, it's time for a long rest.
I'm glad to have been here and done this.
I'll see you around.