Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae part 31: The Fruit of Happenstance part one

The Fruit of Happenstance part one.–1995-1996

“How to kill a frog?” is a question that has never entered my mind, in as much as being to ask myself a question on how to stitch a pair of jeans together. There is a saying that pertains to boiling a frog slowly and the frog becoming used to the warming water and finally being unable to escape the clutches of the water as it starts to rage around the poor critter. In this manner so it went with some of the madness that not only shrouded our lives but also provided the stability to enjoy the water as is rose around us. There were happy coincidences  that paved the way to finding company in fits of panicked loneliness where one would find themselves talking to the bass player of band passing through town and discovering her best friend went out with a local lead singer or even the fact that her favorite obscure song is not so obscure to you. These were the breathtaking episodes that have long provided the mini-oasis’s of my life, for a moment when the world would halt around dim-litted beer signs and the skinny shuddering of a bare chested man, belting out “this is a job for a stupid man…” as he would slither across a crowd of other like minded rabble who cursed day jobs of slinging paper into feeders or food on plates. In that scene everything would breathe in at once and then freeze, like a Nike sports commercial where the athlete hovers in the air in science fiction fashion, I starred in my own science fiction where reality would peer through as if blanketed in mask made of panty hose. I could see the outlines but never the details.

Shit just fell in our lap; karma meant nothing as there was no sense of order in an existence that was constructed out of attention deficit disorder cement. In the summer of 1995 as I lurched through a marriage and divorce that grabbed and shook all of the disappointment from a childhood designed by escape the music was the only promise that held true. Jenny was in New Orleans, living the life of a bohemian that many of us in Columbus only pretended to be, she had left the past behind as she ran from her future. Her apartment was just off the French Quarter, working as a waitress she and her husband at the time, spent evening in the jazz clubs she adored and she painted and grew her flowers in a small courtyard directly behind her house.

Ted Hattemer and I assembled her debut album and I hated her idea of the cover, I should have trusted my instincts and used just one black and white photo of her as a naked child smiling as she was showered with the garden hose. That year, the dinky little label that Jerry and I started just a few years would release four full length records through Revolver USA. The promise that Jerry had bellowed in my ear that we would be self-sustaining appeared to be happening even if my utter accident.  In fact, in hindsight it was amazing that we could even get records shipped out on time, as only recently I discovered a check of $22 from Comm Four, a tiny distribution company in New York dated from 1993. Revolver USA was at this point completely funding the label, with a belief that some of the international and national press that music from Columbus was garnering would translate into sales. Years later I have a garage filled with physical copies of mis-guided faith in my business acumen.

We did not realize that some of the fuel that made us burn could also consume our everyday existence as evidenced by the marriage and divorce that rocked my little rock and roll world that year. Instead of celebration I was wrecked with self-doubt and reservation. Jenny appeared to enjoy New Orleans but she got the itch to return to Columbus and soon was living in the little green house directly behind what now houses The Bourbon Street and Summit nightclubs. Upon returning, she hooked up with Jeff Graham, who owned a small basement studio on the outskirts of what can only be referred to as the hood.

Diamond Mine studios was housed in a small pillbox styled house in the Linden area of Columbus, an area that my mother grew up in. During the forties this area was populated by many of the returning G.I.s who would use their GI Bill money and live in this new developed neighborhood. Stretching from just north of downtown Columbus, Linden is bordered by the I-71 freeway directly to the west and Cleveland Avenue which shoots out of downtown in an angled line like a bullet from a gun. Linden was a victim of white flight in the mid-fifties, and my mother’s parents were the only white family to stay in their house on 19th Avenue and Hamilton. Diamond Mine lay just to the north of this house, and today the neighborhood is pocket-marked by blocks of suburban bliss only to be rudely accented by the next block housing boarded up crack houses and gun shots borne out of frustration and confusion.

I knew who Jeff was, he was in couple of bands that were of the college rock variety, whose influences would both consist of Elvis Costello and Kansas so I knew little of him. I was shocked when I was led down to the basement studio which was much larger and sophisticated than I had ever imagined. It was the real deal, not some crappy cassette 4-track set up on a case of Black Label beer with shitty Radio Shack microphones duct-taped to broken mic-stands. His sound board had different colored lights and could have from a set of Star Trek. He played me some of the new songs Jenny was recording with him, Dan Spurgeon and Sean Woosely. The sound was rich, deep and sophisticated; I could not believe my ears. I had no idea that Jenny could sing to well. Maybe she wasn’t such a fuck up as she hic-cupped her way around me in the cramped studio….


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One Response to “Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae part 31: The Fruit of Happenstance part one”

  1. Ingvar Johansson Says:

    I found your blog by accident and have now been reading everything from start to finsih. What a fascinating read. I got all the records back in the late 80’s/early 90’s but I totally lacked the context. I’ll have to dig out the Cowtown ep’s, the Greenhorn, Appalachian Death Ride, Thomas Jefferson, Gaunt, Mike Rep and Moviola records again. Thank you very much for sharing all this

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