Saturday, February 1, 2014

Donny Besancenez

If you have any kind of online presence at all, more than likely you use social media. I do know people who have no use for social media and I somewhat admire them, I would prefer to be that way. But I’m not. I have a Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Facebook account. I have stopped short with Instagram, not because I don’t like images, I love images. Just never gotten around to figuring it out and I am a little apprehensive about using a program that modifies images. Perhaps I’m not understanding Instagram, but from what I’d gathered, it takes photos and makes them look old or rustic or whatever. Maybe it doesn’t do that anymore, or you can control that, but as you can see, I don’t care enough about it to even find out.

Out of all of those I am most active on Facebook and its Facebook I have to thank for the piece you see above. It’s of Donny Besancenez and he had posted the original photo on FB. Then he “tagged” me in a comment and said he’d love to have a painting of it. It was very nice thing for someone to say in such a public forum. I’ve known Donny for a number of years but I wouldn’t say we know each other well. He use to be very active in the local music scene, running sound for clubs, engineering recordings and playing in his band Tripstar. He’s been a few bands since and still does play out now, currently in Cold Hearted Strangers. The first time I met him was at a club down on the Landing. He was the soundman and my band at the time and been asked to play a last minute show. We jumped at it. Of course it was last minute cause St. Louis was about to get dumped with a half foot of snow and whatever band was booked couldn’t make it. So at a moment’s notice we were ready. We get to the club and are greeted by Donny. He was great and did a phenomenal job with the sound. We hadn’t played too many shows at that point and used a drum machine, samples, moog, lots of electronic stuff that most clubs at the time had no idea what to do with. But Donny knew exactly how to mic everything up and how the mix should be. We played a great set thanks to him. But, as usual, not one person was there besides the bartender and Donny. Oh well.
Since then we’d always see each other at shows or traded with each other whatever music we’ve been doing. Nothing big but a mutual respect for each other. And I greatly appreciate it and very happy to be working on this piece. 
While working on this piece word came through that trusty ole Facebook that a friend of ours had died. Christopher Gustave was an artist from Arizona who had lived in St. Louis for a number of years and did a wide variety of art from photographs to graphic design and everything in between. Donny and him were closer as friends than I was but I did greatly enjoy his company, particularly at art openings. You could say we had the same mindset about certain things and could relate to each other effortlessly. Everyone has someone they know who they can go weeks or even months without seeing and then, when you do get to see each other you just fall right into wherever you left off at and pick it right back up. Chris and I were like that. A very talented artist who also could be difficult but I can’t really fault him for that, I can be very difficult myself. He had left St. Louis a few years ago and went to New York City and then relocated again, back to his home town Phoenix, AZ. I don’t have the details of his death, just heard various things from Facebook postings. I’ve yet to muster the courage to ask someone who knows, what exactly happened. What I do know is that he’s gone now and we’ll never see him again. Thankfully he left the world with a ton of artwork and I’m glad I got to hang out with him.
 now playing - Spiritualized