See, I used to have a portable CD player called a “discman” that I carried around in very much the same manner that I use my MP3 player and laptop these days. But back then the discman wasn’t as ubiquitous as an iPod, Blackberry or whatever else folks use. Plus, when someone used one – say, to walk to work or while riding the train – it took planning. Which CDs made the trip and how many?
Back in the summer of 1994, Jawbox’s CD “For Your Own Special Sweetheart” was with me on a lot of trips. Actually, it was better classified as a staple and landed a spot in my portable CD travelling case that held approximately 20 to 30 discs. There, Jawbox sat alongside heroes like John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Fugazi and The White Album. They went everywhere I went.
That’s not bad company.
Nevertheless, last night’s reunion was Jawbox’s so-called “major” label release back when such things existed (or mattered) after putting out its previous records on Ian MacKaye’s Dischord Records. The band, it seemed, got caught up in that post-Nirvana alterna-revolution that also claimed D.C.’s unique Shudder to Think, yet also gave us things like Nicklecrap or Three Doors Down or whatever those contrived bands called themselves back then.
Needless to say, the major label bit ended badly for Jawbox. But that’s OK – we got good songs from them. Better yet, they also never graduated to the monstrous venues when they played live, which meant I once saw them while lounging on the grass on the quad at Franklin & Marshall on a sunny April day about a dozen years ago.
These days, former Jawbox lead man J. Robbins fronts a band called The Channels and works as producer. Perhaps he will lead a Jawbox reunion?
Sadly, though, Robbins' son Cal, now 3-year-old, was diagnosed with Type 1 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), an incurable nerve disorder which affects the brain's ability to communicate with the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, breathing, and swallowing.
According to information, Type 1 SMA is usually fatal and most Type 1 babies will die before they turn 2. For the kids who make it to childhood, life is filled with lots of therapy and the need for tons of medical assistance because little Cal will never be able to walk.
But as a non-corporate musician who is self-employed, Robbins doesn’t have medical insurance that covers something like SMA. As a result, the indie music community has taken to soliciting donations and staging benefits where all the money goes directly to support Cal.