Death & Music Artists Reflect on Songs for Coping with Grief

Local Music, KEXP Presents
Dusty Henry

Tonight, KEXP will open the Gathering Space for the fourth annual Death & Music. It's a special event, hosted by The Morning Show DJ John Richards, that really goes beyond a traditional concert experience. It's a time to reflect on grief, on the people we've lost, and heal with our community. Alongside performances from local artists, people will be stepping up to share their own stories, and "an exploration of the intersection of these two distinct veins of life and how they feed into one another." This year's sold out event will include performances from Damien JuradoIan MooreSean NelsonTomo NakayamaStar Anna, and Daniel Blue of Motopony. (NOTE: a very limited amount of tickets will be available at the door.) Ahead of what's sure to be a beautiful and emotional evening, we asked a few of the artists to share a song that's helped them in their life as they've coped with grief. These are their stories.

Tomo Nakayama: A.A. Bondy - "Slow Parade". When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, I was on tour with Gold Leaves, opening for the singer/songwriter A.A. Bondy. We were playing in Atlanta, and I remember getting the call from home right before I had to go on stage. I played the set in a complete daze, not really sure where I was or what I should be doing. Afterwards, I walked into the green room where Bondy was warming up. He saw the glazed look on my face and asked what was wrong. "My grandma died," I said. Hearing the words come out of my mouth finally made it real, and I broke down. Bondy gave me a hug while I cried. After a while, he said, "If it makes you feel better, my lady left me today and all my stuff is in storage." It didn't really make me feel better, but what can you really say in that situation? I appreciated his kindness. The rest of the night is a haze but I do recall sitting in a dark room, listening to this gorgeous ballad. "Marching in a slow parade/There are ashes where you laid..." I remembered my grandmother, the tiny lady with a huge heart, who gave birth to ten children and helped put many more through seminary with her charity work. The music put my heart at ease, and I was grateful for the memory.


Damien Jurado: “Responsibility” by Thanksgiving is a song I have turned to throughout time for comfort. Lyrically the song is very poetic and human and it speaks to me especially in times of reflection.


Star Anna: I get transfixed on a song that feels like a mantra and I just listen to it on repeat for days on end. "All The Time In Airports" by The Handsome Family stuck with me for a while. It's a song filled with the everyday mundane of the airport, with brief little windows of loneliness peeking through. It's his voice that gives away the emotion while he's singing about going through security or buying frozen yogurt. It feels like a safe song to fall apart to.

Death & Music starts tonight at 6 PM. If you weren't able to get a ticket, make sure to tune in to The Morning Show tomorrow morning from 6-10 AM PST as John Richards hosts his annual Mom Show -- a four-hour block of remembrance and reflection as Richards remembers his own mother and helps others who've lost loved ones.

Related News & Reviews

Mastering the Hustle KEXP Presents

KEXP Presents: Mastering The Hustle: Promoting Your Music & Shows 11/12

Promoting your own music can be difficult. There's the logistical side of knowing how to do it and there's an internal struggle with artists on not wanting to lose authenticity. But not promoting because of these issues is only going to cause you more problems further down the road. Knowing how to …

Read More
Interviews Local Artist Spotlight Local Music

KEXP Exclusive Interview: Noel Brass, Jr. Searches for the Beautiful Unknown on Broken Cloud Orchestra

Noel Brass, Jr. sits at the back of Cafe Vita in Greenwood, quietly sipping on an espresso. He's immediately recognizable — it's hard to find a photo of Brass where he isn't wearing his trademark fedora and glasses. It's a rainy November afternoon and I can't think of a better setting to dive into …

Read More
Throwaway Style Local Music

Throwaway Style: Chastity Belt, Growing Up and Feeling Alone

Throwaway Style is a weekly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the …

Read More
KEXP Presents

KEXP Record Fair: Vendors Share Their First Record Purchases and Rare Vinyl Available This Saturday

Crate diggers, take notice! This Saturday, October 28 from 8 AM to 5 PM, KEXP will host our 2nd Annual Record Fair in our Gathering Space. It's a chance to peruse through stacks and stacks of LPs, singles, and all the vinyl you could ever imagine.

Read More