ConstantCommentary® Vol. XII, No. 176, March 17, 2011

Mike Jasper at 56




You never know what's funny sometimes. Or what's not.

Last summer, singer-songwriter Kevin Gant asked me to interview several poets and singer-songwriters from the late, great days of the early '90s at Austin acoustic venue Chicago House.

"But all I have is a consumer digital video camera," I said. "It's not Hollywood quality at all."

Kevin told me it didn't matter.

"No, man, this will be a movie by Jay Duplass," he said. "This guys works with old footage all the time. He's a real director."

"Okay," I said. "So why is he doing a movie about you?"

"I don't know. Apparently, he used to watch me back in the '90s and I helped inspire him. I know, it's crazy, but now he's a real movie director with real credits. He did a movie called Cyrus with Jonah Hill and John C. Riley and that actress that got the Academy Award, what's her name?"

"Marissa Tomei," I said. I had heard of the movie.

"Yeah!" Kevin said. "Yeah, that's the one."

"And so now he's doing a movie about you."

"Yeah," Kevin said. "It's a documentary about me. I guess he got influenced by my songs or my performances or--I don't know, but he's wants to take me to Spain, because that's where my flamenco guitar influences came from."

"Spain," I said. I took a deep breath. I remember Ed Hamell (aka Hamell on Trial) telling me once, "Someone better watch over Kevin Gant. He could fall between the cracks and get lost forever."

Had he gotten lost? He was a pretty hot Austin singer-songwriter up until 1995, and then he completely dropped out of the scene. He quit music and got a job at UPS. Rumor had it that he had gone to LA to "make it," only to be beaten within an inch of his life by a street gang headed by his thug-like cousins. He limped back to Austin dejected and crestfallen. He quit music, got a job, and tried to forget.

But out of the blue, he called me up sometime in the 21st Century and told me he wanted to record some music. Weird music, too. I always called it Boheme, a strange combination of flamenco-influenced guitar, Jimi Hendrix-like vocals and New Age lyrics. Like this:

Had he gone crazy? Hard to say.

"Anyway, man, I'll pay you a couple of hundred bucks to do the interviews. Peg Miller, MJ Torrance, Patty Finney--anybody else you can think of?"

"How about Chris Garrigues?" I asked.

"Yeah! And you, of course."

Real or imagined, I knew this--if Kevin told me I'd be paid, I'd definitely be paid. So I recorded the interviews on my consumer Panasonic and didn't think twice about it.

Turns out neither he nor Duplass ever used the footage, but sonofabitch, the movie called Kevin got made and premiered at SXSW 2011 on March 13 at the Alamo Drafthouse. I was in the audience that day, and I broke down and cried when I saw the footage of Kevin in Spain and realized his hallucination was in fact a reality.

And when I saw my mug up on the silver screen, I was stunned. I had forgotten that I opened for Kevin's CD release party way back when. And I had no idea it had all been televised locally.

At the end of the movie, I went up to Jay Duplass and gave him a hug.

"Saint Duplass," I said. "You validated us all."

This column aims to be funny, usually. But not today, baby, not today.

* * *

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: This column aims to be funny. If you can read anything else into it, you're on your own.




Mike Jasper is a writer and musician living in Austin, Texas.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he claims strong ties to Seattle, St. Petersburg, Florida and North Platte, Nebraska.


© 2011 by Mike Jasper, All Rights Reserved. ConstantCommentary® is published whenever Mike Jasper feels like it. All material is the responsibility of the author.