There has been no shortage of sad losses in the music world in recent weeks, from Alex Chilton on the national level to three local stalwarts, two of whom will be remembered in the coming days with fitting musical celebrations.
John Brazas, a.k.a. Johnnie Coolrock, was in many ways the ultimate fan: a regular at countless local gigs; a frequent correspondent on the Sound Opinions message board, keeping this critic and others on their toes; a musician (he probably reached his biggest audience when he contributed the power-pop gem "Good Girls" to the soundtrack for the movie "Roller Boogie"), and a tireless booster of local music who for a time ran a venue called the Sputnik Coffehouse in suburban Homewood. He was battling pancreatic cancer (there was a Sputnik reunion to benefit his health care costs last November) and he lost the fight when he passed away on March 18, though he is sure to live on in the hearts of the many who shared a gig or a beer with him.
Columbia student Jay Polhill, a talented photographer who loved to shoot local bands, was found dead in the Calumet river on March 2. Some of his many friends are paying tribute to his memory on Friday, March 26, with a concert at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St. Performers include the Ivorys, featuring his friend and roommate Brendan Lazar, Glasko, the Kickback and the Streets on Fire. Admission is free before 9 p.m., and the show also will include a presentation of some of his photographs and artwork.
Finally, Carlos Hernandez Gomez, who died of cancer in January, always will be remembered in these parts as a reporter's reporter--a fedora-wearing, hard-charging muckraker for Chicago Public Radio and CLTV. But he also was an avid music fan and a musician, and he was just as eager to talk about Dylan or the Beatles as he was about Daley or Obama. Fittingly, his wife, wife, Randi Belisomo Hernandez, family and friends, including the actor Joe Farina, will celebrate his passion with a memorial concert at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 8. Given his special love for the British Invasion, the music will include the Beatle Brothers, Phil Angotti and Brad Elvis, Eric Howell and a reunion by his own band, the Gear, with Farina serving as the master of ceremonies. Tickets are $25 in advance via www.water.cc/carlos/ or $30 at the door, and proceeds will benefit Living Water International, a faith-based, non-profit organization that helps communities in countries such as Haiti acquire safe drinking water.