April 13 — YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, Jimmer (2017)

IMG_1762Take a look at the relationships you have with the artists you follow, and chances are you can find some analogous relationships elsewhere in your life.

There’s the musician you discovered when you were both young. You’ve aged and grown, been through a lot together. There are relationships that run steady for years, but then grow stale. There are musical relationships for Saturday night only — and Sunday morning only — and relationships that evolve over time.

And then there is Jimmer Podrasky, the loner kid who hung out in the smoke-hole, and then disappeared.

When I first encountered Jimmer, he was the leader of the Rave-Ups, a Pittsburgh roots-rock band when roots-rock bands weren’t in fashion. I saw the Rave-Ups open for the Church at Fritzi’s in Oklahoma City in 1988 and at a tiny venue in downtown Minneapolis in 1989. They released three critically acclaimed albums, none of which sold well. And then they disappeared.

Two years ago, after a 25-year absence, Jimmer re-appeared with a solo record. Turns out he’d been on quite a journey. Epic Records had dropped the Rave-Ups in the early 1990s, after not knowing how to market them. And thus began Jimmer’s long, downward spiral into obscurity, mental health problems and thoughts of suicide. It hit rock bottom a few years back when he and his teenage son were living in an old car in a friend’s driveway.

“People were surprised to hear my new music,” he said after his new record came out, “because they thought I was dead.”

And now with another album, the second chapter of Jimmer Podrasky’s second life has begun. It’s good to hear from him. Considering what he’s been through, it’s good to see him at all.



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