J. Nardy

I first met Jeff around 1995 or 1996 in Columbia, MO. I was 15/16, and my friends and I, usually some combination of Justin McCrady, Morgan Burnham, Drew Simpson, and Dan Browning would go downtown and hit up all the record stores. We would make stops at Streetside, Salt of The Earth and, of course, Whizz Records, where Jeff worked.
Jeff was always nice to us kids and offered a lot of advice and musical direction. At first Jeff really got me into a lot of garage rock and surf type stuff, think anything on Crypt Records and Estrus etc., The Mummies, Supercharger, Man of Astroman?, The Oblivians, Teengenerate, The New Bomb Turks, and on and on. I think he thought it was cool that we had a band even though we were all pretty young. At that point Drew, Dan and I had a band called Sooprize Package (named after a Supercharger song), and we did a lot of covers, but had a handful of original stuff too. Jeff was friends with The Revelators, an older and much more established and talented band in Columbia. But he introduced them and that led to us playing some bigger and better shows. He even set us up with a live radio show on KOPN (there is a recording out there). Over the next year or so my musical tastes had shifted a little, and I stopped playing with Sooprize Package and started a new band called Amputee Set, which was more on the emo/hardcore/screamo side of things. Dan and Drew continued on as the Deadbeat Dads, still kind of doing the surf and garage rock thing, and occasionally Jeff would sit in with them. I remember a show at Rockbridge High School where Amputee Set, The Deadbeat Dads, Richie and The Cunninghams and a few others played, but Jeff “played” with almost every band that night. During the Deadbeat Dads set, Jeff smashed a toy organ and upset a bunch of teachers. It was rock and roll at its finest. As I grew more curious about music, Jeff introduced me to bands like June of 44, Rodan, Slint, Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Milemarker, Drive Like Jehu (I still remember him giving me a promo copy of Yank Crime, I still have it). And the list went on and on. I was at Whizz every week, and Jeff always had some sort of recommendation for me. I definitely see him as a person that got me into most of the music I still listen to today. When I became a senior in high school, my schedule was pretty short. I would get out at noon every day. This was also the case for Dan Browning. So every Friday before school Dan and I would take a beer order from our friends and then when we got out of school at noon we would go pick up Jeff. We would first go out for lunch. Every Friday we would go to a different place. It was always Jeff’s pick, and I think he was trying to try every food place in Columbia. Always exciting when something new opened up. We discovered a lot of stuff that way. One of my favorites was the Bull Pen Cafe, it was like nothing I had ever been to. They had live cows on site and butchered them there, it was so old fashioned and crazy to me. Every person inside chain smoking, a true redneck diner kind of place. With insanely unhealthy food, bacon cheeseburgers as big as your head, and fried everything. Anyhow, we went to so many different places to eat that year, I wonder if Jeff kept track of all of them. After lunch we would take Jeff to the grocery store, so he could do his weekly shopping. This helped him out because he didn’t have a car, and in return he would purchase beer and alcohol for us underage kids (sorry hope this doesn’t get him any trouble, this was 20 some years ago). So we would give him our “beer list”, he would do his shopping and get us our beer for the weekend. A match made in heaven, especially for underage kids. After grocery shopping, Dan, Jeff and I would go back to Jeff’s house and listen to records and hang out until everyone else got out of school. Then we would meet at Morgan Burnham’s house, hand out everyone’s beer orders and have Amputee Set practice. After practice we would go downtown, hang out in a parking lot, drink beer until the late hours of night and then crash at someone’s house. The next morning we would get up and go downtown and stop into Whizz and hangout with Jeff for a few hours. He was a huge part of all of us kids growing up and discovering music and cool things. That friendship lasted even after high school. I hung out with Jeff a lot over the next few years and helped him move 2 or 3 times, it was always a crazy adventure moving his records and getting him settled into his new place, but after each move we always had a cool hangout spot. Jeff was a huge part of Columbia during those years, all his shows on KCOU and KOPN, and the shows he set up with Missouri Derby and Springfest. Yes, there was the famous show where he got Big Star to reunite. But he also got the Red Krayola to play here and part of that band was Jim O’Rourke and George Hurley (from The Minutemen), truly insane. Even after Whitney had moved and Whizz kind of changed hands, Jeff was part of it. I secretly wished that Jeff would take over Whizz, but unfortunately that didn’t happen and Jeff decided to move (probably a good choice). Jeff went back to Boston (not sure what year), and we always stayed in touch. He helped my later band Bald Eagle book a show in Boston at The Middle East and would always work whatever musical project I had going on into one of his radio shows. I would always send him a copy of whatever new record I had done, and I knew he would listen to it and actually care. We had been talking a lot this year off and on, mostly through social media and Google chat, just talking about how crazy the world was, Covid-19 stuff, but also talking about our music projects, he was so excited about the new Boston Typewriter Orchestra record that he had finished up. We would talk about food and share recipes and cooking tips. He was super interested in all the pizza stuff I was doing and wanted me to share some ideas with him. We even talked to great lengths about bagels once Pizza Tree (the place I work at) had started doing bagels for breakfast. He took a short trip this year to a family member’s house or cabin on the coast and did some clam digging and made pizza out of those clams. He sent me this awesome email with his pizza report from that trip, including one with duck gravy. A few years ago, he swung through Columbia for Lincoln Dickinson’s wedding in Omaha and stopped by Pizza Tree for some slices and beer and we caught up like old friends and he gave me a million ideas for pizzas to try. Last time I was in NYC he got in touch and wanted me to come down to Boston to visit. It didn’t work out, but I now really wish it would have. I’m just glad that Jeff and I stayed in touch over the years and could always pick up, he always seemed so excited to see what everyone was up to. A true genuine person. Earlier this year he was on the Kelly Clarkson show talking about The Boston Typewriter Orchestra, and if you have never seen that clip, I encourage you to check it out. It’s Jeff Breeze to the core. He was a true one-of-a-kind person, a legend, and someone I will always be grateful that I had met and had in my life. I have a million Breeze stories and experiences, but I think I will save them as wonderful memories. He will be missed. Long live Breeze.

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