UPDATE: A memorial for Kyle Scott will take place Monday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. at the Logger Bar. Details here.
It's strange hearing about someone's death on Facebook, although that seems to be the new norm. It's even stranger clicking over to the person's timeline and reading through the displays of anguish until you arrive at the person's last post. In Kyle Scott's case, a friend of his had posted, "Have a very talented musician friend looking for a saw player..Will hook you up if you'd like" and Kyle had answered, "yes please" with a smiley face emoticon. And then sometime later, as far as we know, he was clipped by another car while driving, which caused his vehicle to roll off the road. He died at the scene. He was right there in the world and then he wasn't. Post after post on Kyle's Facebook page speaks to the bewilderment and sense of loss rocketing through the worlds of those who loved him.
I didn't know Kyle well. But he was a central figure in one of Blue Lake's most storied eras, circa 2006 or so. I covered music for the Arcata Eye at the time and had a special fondness for a certain outlaw country band, The Rubberneckers. The band had formed in 2002 and almost immediately laid claim to Humboldt's heart – and liver – with cowpunk singalongs celebrating, among other things, being drunk by 4 p.m., ice in one's drink, being wasted tonight and 100 beers. Kyle played with The Rubberneckers on occasion, lived with three out of four of the members in the fabled Farmhouse and fronted his own band, The Jade Stems, all of which is how I met him. Between the 'Neckers and several exceptional seasons at Dell'Arte, Blue Lake was in a musical and theatrical heyday, the center of its own brilliant universe. Times were crazy and love was fierce.
But the momentum couldn't be sustained forever. The Rubberneckers split up and went their separate ways. New York. Florida. Arcata. Iowa? The Farmhouse scene evaporated. Kyle landed in Austin via PDX and, by all accounts, was doing well. He'd just come off a week-long road trip with his father, according to his friend (and mine) Colleen Clifford – Colleen's Facebook post is how I learned about Kyle's death. She'd put up a link to a track recorded 12 years ago, when Kyle had joined local bluegrass band Lazybones for a song (listen below). Colleen's husband Ian Davidson, who currently plays banjo in the Absynth Quintet, was in Lazybones at the time.
Ian shared a bit of his memories of Kyle. "I got to know him a long time ago, when he was dating a roommate and we became friends... He was just a really cool guy, really nice and genuine, but quirky and weird at the same time, with a great sense of humor and adventure, a really kind, gentle guy who always had an interest in lots of things. The last time I saw him was when Absynth played a wedding a couple years ago. He was here for the wedding and we got him up on stage and I'm glad we did that. He was really skilled in weird musical pursuits. He played the saw and could hand-fart like no one else. It was truly amazing."
My own recollection and a look at Kyle's Facebook page confirms all the above. He was a really cool guy and quirky and weird and loved. Former Rubbernecker and Farmhouse resident Greg Lojko posted, "This is the saddest day of my life. This man and this dog and I lived with each other longer than anyone else outside of our families. I know because we just talked last weekend and he sounded happier and clearer than I've ever know him. My heart is broken."
Rubberneckers' frontman Clay Smith – who visited last summer during the Mad River Festival and joined Absynth Quintet onstage for "Another Sunny Day," The Rubberneckers' beloved ode to Blue Lake – wrote, "My friend since early '90s Gainesville, Blue Lake Farmhouse roomy, band mate and life long partner in weirdness. We lost him to a car accident Saturday night near his place in Austin, TX where he had just moved in with his girlfriend. My heart is broken. The earth and humanity should mourn his loss. They'll never have another like him. And neither will we."
Humboldt friends, please note: A memorial for Kyle is being planned at the Logger Bar. Longtime Blue Lake resident and former Farmhouse neighbor Kim Wester is helping organize the tribute to Kyle. "He was such a warm, warm light," she said, "incredibly welcoming, down-to-earth, someone that should never be taken away..." Details will be announced on the Logger Bar's Facebook page.