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.