Scene report from Planet Sam Zurick


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Sam proposed to his ex via this tattoo. It didnt work out.
  • Sam proposed to his ex via this tattoo. It didn't work out.
If you care enough about music in Chicago to be reading this blog, you're probably aware of guitarist Sam Zurick through his work with proto-emo wunderkinds Cap'n Jazz or maybe from his time in Joan of Arc. Given their relative popularity you're statistically less likely to know his later bands with Tim Kinsella, like Owls and Make Believe. If that's the case you're really missing out on some of the most stunning guitar work you'll ever hear, specifically in the latter group, for which he composed strangely beautiful and bafflingly complex melodic lines so far out from traditional pop- and blues-derived rock 'n' roll to practically be in their own orbit around the Earth. That it's nearly impossible for the average person to comprehend even how he even made his fingers do what they were doing, never mind how he could even come up with his parts in the first place, says a lot about how Zurick's brain works compared to the average person's.

Last night I ran into Kinsella at a bar and he told me that recently Zurick has been living in his van around the southwest, mostly in New Mexico. A little while back Kinsella sent him an e-mail consisting of four simple "questions," but half of them aren't even real questions: "What's up Sam? What's happening? Really, Wow? Tell me more please." The reply he got filled 45 single-spaced pages when Kinsella copied the e-mail into a Word document, not including the copious illustrations and the included copy of Zurick's (amazing) resume.

A couple of weeks ago Kinsella posted the whole thing on his blog. I just started reading it and so far it seems like part sci-fi religious exegesis a la Philip K. Dick and part journal-style confession of a guy who may have spun out a little bit following a hard breakup. It's like Behold a Pale Horse or but with a deeply moving story of human emotional life woven into it. I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time I finish reading it Zurick will have convinced me to believe 100 percent in whatever the fuck it is he's talking about.


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