Jason Dryden died too soon.  Too soon because I needed to see him play more music.

I didn’t know Jason well, but saw him perform often as part of the band Sleepybird. I am lucky to have seen them play as many times as I have.  But I am greedy.  I want more.  Jason on bass and theremin was something brilliant. The alchemy of Sleepybird I have written about before.  Jason was a huge presence, a performer among performers, down to his moustache.  When I first saw Sleepybird (in a friend’s living room) the musicians plucked and plunked and blew and soon, strains of their song, “Butter her up” warmed the air.  I was hooked.

I was lucky enough to see Sleepybird et al in “The Fruit for the Egg” at Stivers in February.  It was amazing.  My husband bid on and won a ceramic piece Jason made, a round white vessel with crackly grey fault lines, and a lid with a primitive white bird as handle.  It’s beautiful and delicate and ancient-looking.

In ways that are so close to my being that they are hard for me to articulate, Sleepybird (performing live, especially) gives me license to write fiction.  The inspiration that comes through them to me, to my inner creator, is tangible every time I hear them.  Something about the substance that they form with their individual selves and instruments, and all encompassed in the music, flows directly into the bloodstream of my creativity.  The inventiveness that I can sometimes muster in my fiction is buoyed by the phenomenon that is Sleepybird.  In particular, that potent energy has been embodied in the way Jason Dryden played the theremin… in the magic of watching his hand dance, ever so slightly, a delicate feather of motion, through the air, and the sounds that motion created.

Although I didn’t know him well enough to glorify him, or demonize him, Jason’s death is really affecting me.  People I know and love were very close to him.  Listening this week to the Sleepybird song, “Already Gone,” I was reminded of the impermanence of everything.  But if anything is important, then everything is important.

Send love to someone.  Do it with words, or clay, or music.  The person who receives your love may not know you, and you may not know them, but do it anyway.  You might do it unwittingly, as perhaps Jason did for me.  The magnitude, though, like the sadness, will last forever.  And even so, is worth it.

7 thoughts on “Jason Dryden of Sleepybird

  1. Sounds like a great band. I’d like to hear them sometime. But seriously, I’m touched by your words and proud to have been part of something that could bring even the slightest bit of happiness or inspiration to yourself and anyone else.

  2. Knick. “Even the slightest bit” don’t scratch the surface. Really, I can’t put into words what it all meant and means to me. I tried, but all words are weak tea. But they are all we have. Sending lotsa warm fuzzies from here,

  3. I want to thank you as well. I just now stumbled upon this beautiful post. I knew Jason for most of my life and his passing haunts me to this day. He was the one who brought me aboard Sleepybird and I’ll never be able to give him the proper thanks. As you know, we have continued, as I think he would have wanted. Of course it will never be the same, and I can still hear him when we are writing new material. Musically J and I bounced ideas off each other and we even followed one another through the songs, and that is what I miss the most. The smile and laughter that use to fill the room is very much missed. It was an honor to have him in my life. Thanks again for the beautiful words.

  4. Oh, Todd. First, I’m so sorry for your personal loss in Jason’s death. Like I said to Knick, words are such weak tea. I can’t imagine how it would be to lose not only the friend but the collaborator. I am not a musician but how you describe that process helps me understand the magnificence in how you do your work. Helps me understand why that music affects me so. How the tapestry of it still wraps my being.

    It always felt weird, how important the music was (and is) to me, and how I only know you guys a tiny bit. So the bigness of Jason’s death seemed, in a way, not mine to feel in such profundity, and yet I did. Seeing you guys play at Peach’s the other night was great, and sad, and great. I kept hearing theremin, feeling echoes of sadness which once again feel false for me to claim, and yet there it is. Feeling a big, gorgeous ghost there among you.

    In the summer of 2008 at the Dayton Library, I recorded 3:08 minutes of video from a part “All Things Are Mine.” It was hotter than hell outside, and you guys were meltingly amazing. I love watching that slice, hoping that my young daughter who that day watched from her papa’s arms was absorbing it all…I love “owning” a piece of that.

    Your finding this post and posting here means so much to me. Thank you. Moments like this remind me why I write.

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