Jeff and I go back a couple of years, being fellow graduates of Pacific University's MAT 5th Year program. In those days we knew each other as teachers in training, and I was always equally fascinated by his ideas and his natural charisma. In the years since, Jeff has recorded some albums and toured all over the country, bringing his original compositions to new audiences far and wide. In so many words, he's about a hundred times cooler than I am. But if I have any advantage, at least I get to actually watch his shows sometimes.
On Sunday night I watched his concert and thought about the past, and I thought about the future, and and I thought about how great it is that just about anyone can live their life and get to know some truly remarkable people. And Jeff is remarkable, even among the army of talented musicians who patrol our nations small-to-mid-sized venues. He's as much a poet of guitar strings as he is of words, and earned his laurels well on both accounts. His singing voice is art unto itself, warm and deeply textured like everyone's best idea of a veteran folk singer, melodious and uncompromising. It pours out with such confidence and strength that you can't imagine he'll ever stop, and when he harmonizes on stage with people like Anna Tivel, it's a true thing of beauty. His is a quiet mastery of sound.
I really hope Jeff makes it really big one day. Not just for the sheer vicarious pleasure of it (but maybe a little); hearing his music enriches life and warms the body like a fine craft beer. Hearing it live is doubly good for your soul, perhaps especially if you're his friend. But I've never known him not to be friends with any one.