I’d first met Jeff when I was a member of The Milkman’s Union, appearing on his show in 2012. He had me back on Pipeline! with my own band about 3 years later, I was on the program a few more times between then and now. As a fellow Jeff B, we naturally hit it off. He was among the biggest champions of my music, for which I am forever grateful. He made you feel like he was focusing all his time on only discovering your music, but then you realize he was doing this for dozens and dozens and dozens of New England artists. People like that are so rare. And he still had time to make his own prolific art!
One particular memory I have: in late 2019 I released a new single on Bandcamp. I slowly sent out emails to members of the press informing them of my new music. Jeff responded by saying “I already played it on my show last night.” Did this guy spend all his time researching New England bands? Did he have endless Google alerts? Or did he just know? He just knew.
Jeff Breeze was a gifted conversationalist, a knack for allowing people to feel comfortable in his presence combined with seemingly endless knowledge about anything and everything music. For as wonderful as the in-studio Pipeline! sessions were to record, the interview segment left me wanting to have longer form interview with Jeff. I got my wish in June 2020, when Jeff graciously asked me to record a Pipeline! @ Home session. He interviewed me over Instagram video – he was shirtless in his apartment with a fan going, and I was shirtless on my back porch in the summer sun. I forgot I was getting interviewed and it felt more like a conversation with an old friend. This is reflected in the 45 minute interview run time, which he edited down closer to 20 for broadcast. Two dudes both sweatin it out and letting it roll.
I last spoke with him in early November – he shared with me the new Boston Typewriter Orchestra album and was very excited about the opportunities coming up for the ensemble. He also asked me to share with him a track or two from my in-progress recording projects. I wasn’t fully confident so I demurred. This is a regret. I think he would’ve dug it.
It’s difficult to not let sadness take over at a time like this, but we have to remind ourselves how fortunate we were to pass through Jeff Breeze’s orbit at all. He gave me and so many other artists an opportunity to be heard by more people, and more importantly, he made us all feel like artists, and that’s a priceless thing. Artists are filled with doubt and fear, and Jeff Breeze validated every artist he supported and made them say, “Well OK, this guy gets it, I must be on the right path after all.”
It was an honor to play on Pipeline! and share the airwaves with Jeff Breeze.
appearances: March 27, 2012 (with The Milkman’s Union); July 15, 2014; Oct. 31, 2017; and June 23, 2020
Breeze liner notes (from Bandcamp): Jeff first showed up at WMBR with the Milkman’s Union, but it wasn’t until he started releasing his own songs that folks really started to take notice. Since then he’s been to the station with a full band and in a duo with his now wife. There was a show that we had scheduled for May that was going to serve as a tour kick-off in support of his new album, but as with everything since March, it was cancelled.
When I reached back out to see if Jeff wanted to join us remotely in this fashion, he jumped at the chance. His other efforts lately had all been in the service of keeping the Portland non-profit venue One Longfellow Square afloat (The GoFundMe hit its goal in 8 days).
Having no fear when it comes to cover songs (he not only got the entire city of Portland to take on the Beatles’ White Album, but has opened for Spoon playing their own early albums), so it was no shock that he picked “Wonderful.” The only shock was that there was not a wall of voices as if the Wilson brothers had been multitrack by Kevin Shields. But instead it’s stripped bare and brings things back to the basics, which is where they need to be right now as we try to reset the universe.