|Jon Svetkey, Brian Doser, Ellis Paul, Jim Infantino|
I was privileged to meet and become friendly with dozens of fantastic musicians, including four wonderful men who performed together as a round-robin ensemble but also performed solo. They were mainstays at our coffeehouse, which ran on Saturday Night in Marblehead opposite of the Me &; Thee which ran (and still does run, thank God) on Fridays.
I remember standing pre-show at the church in a weirdly robin's egg blue colored hallway with Paul (I called him that instead of Ellis Paul, which is his stage name). still can see his knee-torn jeans and poly-propylene thermal long johns of dark blue showing through, one leg bent with a foot against a wall, a denim shirt, and his shoulder length dirty blonde hair cascading around his blue eyes... his head tilted to the side as he listened to me babble telling him some story.
Brian had long curly curly curly hair and a deep beautiful voice. Jessica danced to his music, and when I think of "Who Woulda Thunk It?" by Greg Brown I hear Brian's voice in my head, not Greg Brown's. Funny now because thinking of Jess being 2 and dancing to his music, he does a children's program now as part of his regular performance schedule. Who woulda thunk it indeed.
And Jon. Saddle shoes, crazy ties, amazing shirts and stomping. So much stomping. He possessed a strong, powerful voice which showcased his great songwriting... opposite of what Ellis' style, which was gentle, soft, baby-cradling of a guitar and sweet high singing. And when they performed together, it was a perfect match which you wouldn't expect when you saw them sing apart.
At one point, after Jess was born, I tried to help manage Jon's bookings, but met little success with that due to my inexperience in dealing with dicky asshole club managers who were nowhere near as nice as I was in managing the bookings at the coffeehouse.
Ellis Paul has gone on to massive success, Jim Infantino's ego is so big three guys need to represent him on stage (sometimes four!). Jon got married and he and his wife perform together, and he also fronts a band called The Loomers. I blame Jon entirely for my preterm labor with Geoffrey, outlined in this entry I wrote in 2001. (kidding. It wasn't his fault. Honestly).
Sunday night they had a reunion concert and fundraiser for another musician, Stuart Ferguson, who is battling cancer right now. I don't know Stuart or his music. I don't remember getting a demo tape (yes, tape) and press kit from him back in the day when I scheduled the artists at the coffeehouse. My friend Amy asked me if I wanted to go see the show, because she wanted to see it with someone who had a history with their history. So of course I did. And I made my whole family go. Because it is their history too.
Wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Ellis still sings with an ethereal beauty and holds that guitar up close to his face like he's not singing to you, he's singing to it. And I just love Jim's songwriting and his phrasing and how incredibly smart he is. They had special guests perform, most notably Josh Kantor who plays in Jim's Big Ego, and also is the organist at Fenway Park. He was fantastic, adding a beautiful little layer of sound to the songs performed.
They closed out with a song off of the End Construction "Resume Speed" compilation they'd put out 20 plus years ago with all four of them singing together and I felt transported back to that church with the big huge Earth Peace flag hanging up on the altar. It was kind of sweet.
I still have a smile on my face, and was happy to share the night with my family and Amy. Pictures are here if you want to see them.