On Jessi Zazu

I started writing something else.  I was going to do one of my “everything/nothing” posts and was about four entries in before I realized that I don’t think I’ve written about Jessi from Those Darlins here yet.  So you’re getting this instead.

Jessi is a really fun person. I got into Those Darlins because they opened for the Drive-By Truckers the night that the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series back in 2011.  I didn’t know it, but I’d heard “Red Light Love” in a commercial and I actually thought it was a Wanda Jackson song I just hadn’t heard before.  The Series meant that they were delaying the start of the show (despite the fact that the crowd showed up anyway and didn’t give two fucks about baseball).

The club decided to disrespectfully lower a screen in front of the stage and show the game instead of putting the bands on.  The Darlins said “fuck it” and went on anyway, putting on a fun set we were all grateful to hear.  Again, we’d shown up for a ROCK SHOW, not for baseball.  (The Pageant–mysteriously voted one of America’s favorite venues–was so disrespectful that night that they left the TVs on well into DBT’s set to the point that Mike Cooley asked if they wouldn’t mind “turning those fucking TVs off” to applause from the crowd.)  After the Darlins’ set, I went back to the merch area, found that the ladies (and gentleman) from the band were hanging out there signing stuff and hawking merch. I bought a couple of their records and got a “thank you kindly” from Jessi, who looked up from signing something for somebody else, saw I had the vinyl, and just wanted to say thanks.  (The “Screws Get Loose” record is on a beautiful gold vinyl that you don’t see very often, by the way.)

After listening to the records, I did the typical “fan-Googling” stuff and found out Jessi has an Instagram page. Started following her and she started displaying/selling some of her art.  I bought some of her sketches and Jessi’s Jesse James sketch is sitting in my kitchen right now.  We’re not close friends or whatever, but her Instagram gives a cool glimpse into her life and I feel a little bit like I know her as a result.  And that’s why I was heartbroken to learn that Jessi has stage 2 cervical cancer.  Before she had even been diagnosed, it had metastasized and spread to her lymphatic system.  If you’ve never known anyone with cancer, let me put those into different words.  By most medical estimates, a patient under those conditions is not expected to survive.

But Jessi?  She “Ain’t Afraid.”

Jessi is a fighter.  She’d have to be.  She’s an attractive woman in a touring rock band.  She’s seen things sleazier than cancer waiting in line for an autograph, and she knows how to kick a little ass if she’s got to.  So she’s fighting.  She refuses to lay down and die and instead is going to show us all how to live and laugh in death’s dumb, stupid, ugly face.  And I’m supporting her in that because I think Jessi’s the best.

Jessi’s a great song writer, a fun performer, and an excellent guitarist.  And she’s a great role-model for young girls–she hosts a “Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp” for young girls who want to make a loud noise.  She’s empowering–she speaks for equal rights in ways that are loud, but ultimately reasonable too.  (She’s the first person I saw sporting an “Impeach Trump” pin as early as November 9!)  She’s an artist who shows as much of herself in her work as possible, and if you’re a fan it’s hard not to feel a kinship with her.  Hell, she even liked a tweet I wrote wishing her well just before Christmas–she’s GOING THROUGH CANCER TREATMENTS and is taking time to like tweets her fans are sending her!  Who does that???

So…here’s the part where I post a couple links…  Like most indie musicians would, Jessi’s found herself in need in this time of struggle.  We’re in a time and place where our government is making it HARDER to be treated for a life-threatening disease, and Jessi–let’s not beat around the bush–needs money.  She’s selling “AIN’T AFRAID” t-shirts.  I bought one of those, and if you’re also the type of person who likes to get a shirt with your donation, you can too.  Or if you’re the more direct type and would just like to donate a few bucks, you can do that here, too.  (I’ll be doing that myself, as well, after my next paycheck.)  In the interest of full disclosure, Jessi’s already hit her initial goal…but this is FUCKING CANCER.  One goal met is not a cure and she’s going to need more.

If you don’t want to (or can’t) donate, that’s cool.  I get it.  But before you make that decision, click over to your Spotify account and listen to Those Darlins for a while.  Or click around her artwork on her website.  Get to know the person and see if it changes your mind.  And if you’re still not ready or able to donate, that’s still cool.  I know we can’t all give to everything…but we can all hope.  We can all pray.  And we can all do what we can to tell cancer we AIN’T AFRAID.  And I hope someday down the road you’ll take an opportunity to do that elsewhere if you’re not able to do it now.  Because cancer isn’t going away anytime soon.  I bet you’ve got a good heart and you’ll have a chance to pour it out someplace.  This is just where I’m pouring mine for now.

Thanks for reading that, and if it leads you to give, you’re fucking awesome.

Until next time…twang-it up!

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