Jay Bennett :: Kicking at the Perfumed Air

A Note From Edward Burch (March 31, 2010 12:35 am)

Most people are familiar with Jay Bennett for his tenure in Wilco—from that very first show in the basement of Cicero’s in St. Louis (under the moniker Black Shampoo) to his dismissal from the band in August 2001. What not as many are aware of are his musical accomplishments before and after. Prior to being asked to join Wilco, Jay had been on a major label with Titanic Love Affair, was a member of the criminally underrated country combo Steve Pride & His Blood Kin (who had shared bills with the likes of Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks), and had toured with and/or played on records of countless artists, including Tommy Keene, Billy Joe Shaver, Allison Moorer, and Jellyfish.

To fans, Jay Bennett was a master melodicist, artful arranger, exceptional engineer, and mesmerizing multi-instrumentalist. To me, Jay was all of those things, but he was also just Jay. He was the guy who would replace the brakes on my car because it was cheaper than taking it to the mechanic. And he was the friend who began making an album with me in 1994 because it seemed like something to do—and, for me, it was cheaper than therapy. The fruits of those labors would see the light of day in 2002, when Jay and I released The Palace at 4 am (Part 1) with Undertow Records. The tours for that album at times played like a foul-mouthed Smothers Brothers for the new millennium, and when we’d finally grown weary of the sound of our own banter, we would eventually get around to what drew us together in the first place: playing songs we wanted to sing. Specific tales of those tours will eventually be shared, but the best part was that it introduced us to many new friends.

Jay followed Palace with two more releases for Undertow in 2004: Bigger Than Blue and The Beloved Enemy, far more sparse and intimate efforts than our all-bells-and-whistles-on-deck debut. These albums were primarily recorded at Jay’s Chicago studio: Pieholden Suite Sound. As his collaborations with David Vandervelde intensified, Jay began the work on what would become his 2006 release for Ryko, The Magnificent Defeat. Prior to the mixing and mastering stages of that album, Jay returned to his de facto home of Urbana, Illinois, bringing his Pieholden Suite Sound with him. With the help of friends and hired guns, Jay turned a gutted storefront into the studio of his dreams (O, what I wouldn’t have given to have the meticulously organized patch bay he included in his new studio back when we were making our recordings).

It was in the new Pieholden studio that Jay produced Whatever Happened I Apologize (2007) for Rock Proper. Eschewing the usual channels of music distribution, Jay decided to put this album out for free as a high-quality download. Sadly, and unexpectedly, it would be the final album Jay would release during his lifetime. At the time of his death in May 2009, Jay was in the final stages of completing Kicking at the Perfumed Air. It is a Herculean task to attempt to “finish” an album in someone’s absence. The album as it stands is indeed a collaborative effort of monumental proportion, brought together by folks whom Jay would trust to do the job. Between Jay’s notes, emails, and conversations as recalled by his friends (which, as you might imagine, contained equal measure of complement and contradiction), Kicking at the Perfumed Air represents, if not the album Jay had intended to share, most certainly an album of which he would be proud.

Hopefully, in the weeks and months that follow, we will uncover even more of Jay’s musical legacy to share. For now, we hope you will enjoy Kicking at the Perfumed Air.

Edward Burch

Austin, Texas

March 2010

Diamond Smiles (9.8MB MP3)
Second Last Call (8.1MB MP3)
Twice a Year (8.1MB MP3)
Mirror Ball (7.5MB MP3)
Footprints (9.8MB MP3)
Hotel Song (10.7MB MP3)
Invitation (7.4MB MP3)
When Heaven Held the World (6.5MB MP3)
M Plates (14.6MB MP3)
Cartoon Physics (8.1MB MP3)
Beer (6.9MB MP3)

Liner Notes:
All instruments played by Jay Walter Bennett, except were noted.
All songs © & ℗ 2010 Jay Bennett, You Want a Piece of This Music Administered by Bug Music, except were noted.

“Diamond Smiles”
(Bob Geldof)
© 1979 Bob Geldof

“Second- Last Call”
David Vandervelde: Backing vocals
© & ℗ 2010 You Want a Piece of This Music and Eyewitness Cat Music, both administered by Bug Music

“Twice a Year”
Edward Burch: Acoustic guitar and backing vocals
© & ℗ 2010 You Want a Piece of This Music and Eyewitness Cat Music,
both administered by Bug Music

“Mirror Ball”
Alex Moore: Drums
Rick Plant: Bass and slide guitars
Sherry Rich: Acoustic guitars, background and harmony vocals
Pat Sansone: Harmony vocal
Glenn Kotchke: Tambourine
© & ℗ 2010 You Want a Piece of This Music, administered by Bug Music, BMG/Pandomik Music/SESAC/APRA

“Hotel Song”
David Vandervelde: Drums
Jason Sipe: Electric rhythm guitar
© & ℗ 2010 You Want a Piece of This Music, administered by Bug Music, BMG/Pandomik Music/SESAC/APRA


All songs written, arranged, performed, recorded, mixed, and produced by Jay Walter Bennett at Pieholden Suite Sound, Chicago, Illinois.
Mastered by Jonathan Pines with Jay Bennett at Private Studios, Urbana, Ilinois in 2007 and 2009
Except “Mirror Ball” which was recorded in Wilco’s Chicago loft 1999. Produced and engineered by Jay Bennett.
Additional recording by Rick Plant at Little Black Studio, Nashville TN
Additional mixing by Jay Walter Bennett of “M Plates” and “Twice a Year” at Pieholden Suite Sound, Rantoul, IL.
Additional recording and mixing by Jonathan Pines and David Vandervelde of “Diamond Smiles,” “Cartoon Physics,” and “Second- Last Call” at Private Studios, Urbana Illinois.
Executive Production by the Jay Bennett Foundation, Ben Clarke, and Matt DeWine.
Artwork direction and design by Johnny Caluya and the Jay Bennett Foundation.
Digital release distribution by rockproper.com
Publicity by Jenny Pfafflin Little Priest PR and Lee Williams.
Management by Jeff Macklin.
jaybennett.org created by the Jay Bennett Foundation, Casey Meehan,
Paul Grachan, and Jason Grey.
Guidance by Jan, John, and Jeff Bennett and Kate Stanton.
Please go to jaybennett.org for more info.