On Friday American Songwriter premiered the video for the Black Swans song “Mask from Memory,” from the band’s excellent new album, Occasion for Song. I talked to singer Jerry DeCicca quite a bit about the record for an Other Paper story, particularly how DeCicca has been processing the death of his friend and former Black Swans violinist Noel Sayre, and how that grieving process made its way into Occasion for Song.
DeCicca delved into a bit more detail about “Mask from Memory,” in particular, when speaking to American Songwriter, saying, “The song is story of process and dreams… imagining yourself creating a mask of your friend that died to see things through his eyes. The mask is the memory you see the world through; the construction is the song’s metaphor for engaging your own thoughts and feelings in hopes of learning something about yourself.”
Today marks the four year anniversary of Noel Sayre’s passing. A luminary in the Ohio underground, Noel played violin for Columbus Ohio’s Pretty Mighty Mighty and Black Swans. He also performed with the West Virginia and Portsmouth Symphony orchestras and worked as a guitar and violin teacher.
Sayre was in a swimming accident on July 1, 2008. After going on life support, he passed away on July 3, 2008. He was a gentle, wildly talented soul and is sorely missed by many.
There will be a gathering at the Surly Girl Saloon on Thursday for friends of Noel who weren’t able to make it to West Virginia for his funeral. Details:
Noel Sayre Memorial
Thursday August 7th, 8:00pm
Surly Girl Saloon, Back Room/Parlor
I was wondering if you could do me a little favor and get the word out about our get together for Noel this Thursday. We are asking people who have known Noel over the years to come on out and share a night with us. We’ll have some pictures and perhaps some music. We’ll be in the back room at Surly Girl.
We are also attempting to compile a CD of some of Noel’s various contributions to the Columbus music scene over the years. We hope to have those available Thursday for people to enjoy.
From Jerry DeCicca of The Black Swans:
First, I owe many of you nice notes in response to yours, but please know I’m thinking of you and appreciate what you’ve shared. I’m super touched by all of your good words.
Below is information on how to attend Noel’s memorial service and how to make a donation to ease some of the financial burden associated with his accident.
The service takes place this Saturday July 12th at the first Presbyterian Church in Huntington, WV. There will be visitations between 12-2pm, followed by a service.
First Presbyterian of Huntington
1015 5th Avenue
Huntington, WV 25701
(304) 523-6476 Fax: (304) 523-6478
The Columbus Music Co-Op has set up a non-profit account for us to deposit funds in order to help cover Noel’s funeral expenses. All remaining money, and money earned in the future, will be used to set up a music scholarship at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in Noel’s name.
Checks can be made to “Noel Sayre Memorial Fund” and sent to:
noel sayre memorial fund
c/o columbus music co-op
2895 neil avenue #390a
columbus, ohio 43202
Or paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org
This e-mail was sent from Jerry of The Black Swans about Noel:
Dear Friends and all,
I have some very sad news to share.
Noel Sayre, my friend and bandmate for 13 years, died early in the
morning of July 3rd due to a swimming accident in Portsmouth, Ohio on
Tuesday July 1st.
He entered the hospital in a coma and never came out of it, his heart
eventually slowing down. In the I.C.U., we listened to Rachmaninoff
and Clive Palmer, two of Noel’s favorites. He spent his time in the
hospital with his close friends and girlfriend, Kristy, who played a
big part in his happiness during the last year.
Noel and I began playing music together on New Years Eve of 1995,
opening a show for the Yips and the Bassholes at Bernies Bagels in
Columbus, Ohio. We split $100 for that gig, and so began a partnership
that quickly became a strong and lasting friendship that the Black
Swans based themselves upon.
We were always more Heckle & Jeckle and Penn & Teller than Simon &
Garfunkel, as we shared an idea about music as art, posing as
entertainment, that we explored over hundreds of gigs and several
recordings. Musically, I always stood in Noel’s shadow and Noel always
felt he was my shadow. We spoke in code, a short-hand, that sometimes
alienated others and sometimes amused them. We were kindred spirits in
many way and couldn’t be more different in others. He was quiet and
articulate, rowdy and beyond shy, hyper intelligent and incredibly
dense. I think I knew him better than anyone and it is safe to say
there was a lot I never saw. It is shocking to think he will no longer
be a part of my physical life. We both imagined that we’d be standing
on stage together when we were 80, an appropriate age for our favorite
July 8 Update: Details on funeral services and donations.
8:32PM Update: Jerry from The Black Swans has sent this message.
4:14PM Update: Dispatch obituary here.
1:51PM Update: Aaron Beck from Columbus Dispatch just e-mailed me and said that Noel died 1:08AM today.
I just got a call from a long time friend of Noel Sayre’s. The violinist for The Black Swans and Pretty Mighty Mighty was rescued from nearly drowning in Portsmouth, Ohio Tuesday evening, but remains in very critical condition. A few more details can be found here.
Send some good thoughts to Noel, his family and his friends.
Well wishes also in the message board