Bryan Harvey remembered

The heading on the e-mail message I received said simply: Not so happy New Year.

It was from a friend in Richmond, Virginia; a girl that I used to date back in high school. Very cool young lady. Instead of going to the prom during our junior year, we bought tickets to the Rolling Thunder Revue and went to see Bob Dylan and friends in concert.

But nearly thirty years later, she was writing to me with very bad news. A musician that we both know was found dead on New Year’s Day. If that shock wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that his wife and two young daughters were also killed. All of them were found bound and gagged in their basement with their throats slit. Gruesome is not the word for crimes like that.

The musician was Bryan Harvey. He was 49 years old. Back in the 1990s he earned minor fame as the guitarist in a band – a duo actually - called House of Freaks. They released four full-length albums and an EP during their brief recording career. The albums were never million-sellers but they were well-received and the band garnered many fans. After House of Freaks broke up, Bryan formed a new band, Gutterball, along with ex-Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn. Yet another friend of mine living in Richmond - he used to be in an Athens band called Love Tractor - played with Gutterball when they toured in Europe and the states.

Unlike my two friends in Richmond I didn’t know Bryan Harvey very well, but I still feel a most definite sense of loss after hearing about his death. I first met him when House of Freaks toured to support their debut album, Monkey on a Chain Gang. He and drummer Johnny Hott came by my record store in Orlando for an acoustic performance. I enjoyed talking to Bryan. He was friendly and had a natural down-to-earth disposition. He was very “normal” compared to more eccentric musicians. I ran into him again in the early 90s when I visiting my friend in Richmond. He remembered me and my store and was as nice and pleasant as usual.

I’ve been following the aftermath of these brutal slayings in the online edition of Richmond’s daily newspaper. The killers haven’t been found yet, but police are actively investigating. Meanwhile, there have been a series of candlelight vigils held outside the Harvey’s home and his wife Kathryn’s gift shop. It is obvious that Bryan, along with his wife and two daughters, touched a lot of lives; through music and love and caring for others. He will be missed.

No comments: