I started helping out with the OJ All Day Festivals during the second one. Those events were such a lovely coming together of a musical community, and I thought we'd all be working on them together into our dotage.
But things change. The other night a considerable number of friends of OJ came together at Sidewalk Cafe for what were basically farewell performances by Matt Roth and Nan Turner, who have decided to move to Kansas City, Matt's hometown, after years here in New York. The bill included performances by Bliss (Barry Bliss goes electric), Nan, Prewar Yardsale, Toby Goodshank, and Matt.
Considering the nature of the event, there was less sentimentality than you might have thought, although Matt did read a charming piece he'd written about his involvement in Sidewalk and how it affected his life.
It's worth reading by clicking: here, poem, here, Matt talks.
Over the years OJ has provided varying types of support to many artists from the Sidewalk scene. Even though I feel as if I personally connected with OJ somewhat late in the game or in a tangential way, or whatever, looking back there were numerous opportunities that I had because of my connection to them. Come to think of it, Matt helped me launch my photo career by using this photo on his site. Thanks for being my first customer, Matt! Many others have relied on them for distribution, recording etc. OJ is DIY out of a certain kind of necessity, but I think also it's an intentional aesthetic. Matt and Nan have shown how music can be created, recorded, and distributed in a personal, handcrafted kind of way.
Aside from that, how many nights have I spent literally jumping up and down, carried away to the beat of Schwervon!? There were a couple shows at Brooklyn Tea Party where I thought the floors might collapse from all the energetic dancing.
Maybe it just hasn't sunk in that Matt and Nan are leaving, but I have a feeling that somehow they will still be a presence on the scene. Anyway, I'll look forward to seeing their progress in this new phase. You've got to admire them for figuring out how to keep on playing. All the best guys.