About ten years ago, when I was a deeply introverted college student making guitar recordings in my Boston bedroom, Jeff found my latest little album online and invited me on to Pipeline! to play a live set. It was my first ever time performing on the radio and he couldn’t have made it any easier. At the same time he invited me to open his band’s album release at Great Scott later that month. It was the first proper show I ever played in Boston. I hadn’t considered until recently that I haven’t known anyone in the Boston scene as consistently as Jeff. He was there to encourage me at the very beginning of my career, and became a friend and supporter of mine for this whole decade. I ended up being a musical guest on Pipeline! more times than I can remember.
I think the last time I was in studio with Jeff was to sing some Christmas songs a couple Decembers ago. Jeff pulled out his typewriter to play some percussion during one of the songs. It was super fun and weird, and I’m not even sure he asked me about it beforehand. I’m glad he felt like he could crash my set. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. A week before he died, we had a lengthy video chat from which he culled a short interview. It got aired during Pipeline! on election night, along with a live set I recorded for the show. Though I expected it to be another in a long line of interviews I’d do with Jeff for years to come, it turned out to be the last show that aired while he was alive.
I knew that I could count on Jeff to always listen to my new song or record and to always play it on air. In a world where it’s so hard to get heard – a scene rich with jaded gatekeepers, Jeff created a space designed to serve the DIY community. Even if you didn’t have your act together enough to email him a link, Jeff would probably find your song anyway, in the same way he first found my music. He was always scouring the web for new songs by bands that had gotten started a week or two before. Whenever I saw him he would tell me about some super weird band that he had just discovered. Maybe they weren’t that good yet, but they had promise, so he’d play them on the radio. I’d imagine that hundreds of bands got their first radio play on Pipeline!. He was an amplifier for so many of us.
His dedication to discovery was made meaningful by his dedication to sharing. Listening to Pipeline! was a wild journey, every week. It could be loud and harsh or soft and sentimental, often changing dozens of times throughout the night. He had hugely open ears to go along with his perfect radio voice. In the weeks since his passing, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be a member of your community like Jeff was. Every community could use a Jeff Breeze, but it probably goes without saying that there was only one Jeff. I’m fortunate to have known him.