In memory of Scott Greene

Scott Greene (August 23, 1967 – June 27, 2016)

A celebration of Scott’s life will be held on July 10, 2016 at 2 p.m. at the The Majestic Hall, 1027 N. Forest St., Bellingham. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Scott’s memory to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center or UW Medical Center-Alvord Brain Tumor Center. 

A Tribute Show will be held July 16 at Boundary Bay, with Shasta Bree, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and others. 

Thank you to the friends of Scott who shared their memories here. Additional pieces are posted online at www.whatsup-magazine.com. 

 

In the morning of June 27, long-time Bellingham musician, 48-year-old Scott Greene, passed away after a battle with brain tumors. Scott had been active in the music scene longer than the magazine has been in existence. In fact, 19 years ago, his band Slick Watts helped raise funds to get the magazine off the ground. But to go through his musical history in town, would be an injustice to Scott, for as good of a musician as he was (and he was really, really damn good), he was an even better person.

I have no idea when our paths crossed first. At some point, we probably nodded to each other at the 3B and just started talking. Scott and I were not close, but I always knew he was there and in hindsight, there was comfort in that. I remember the last time I saw him before he found out he was sick – we ran into each other at Bellingham Fitness and did what we always did, had a good little chat, usually about nothing important. He’d started going to the gym because he figured if he took a shower there instead of at home, it’d save him enough money to justify the cost of the gym. I remember this look and smile on his face as we said hello and chatted – he had this incredible way of always, and I mean always, making you feel welcome into his world. It didn’t seem to matter who you were, if you were close or not close – he made you feel welcome and relaxed in any conversation.

A year ago last May, Scott, Boris Budd, Eric Holl, and myself went to see The Replacements in Seattle. Even though he’d been going through chemo, somehow Scott mustered up the energy to go see a show. He was rocking there, but you could tell he was exhausted… he fell asleep on the way home and my heart went out to him. He was just so tired. My sister had gone through chemo at that point, so I knew how hard it must’ve been on him.

The thought of Scott not beating cancer, though, never really crossed my mind – I always thought he’d beat it, even when I was hearing how hard the battle was and how problematic progress would be. I thought Scott would beat it because Scott was always here. This type of thing didn’t happen, it COULDN’T happen, to someone like Scott. He was one of the good ones, he was one of the good people in the world. He was part of the fabric of our little music scene, of the damn town… He would beat this.

But he, like so many others, couldn’t. And, I’m heartbroken. I’m heartbroken and I didn’t really know Scott. As I’ve collected thoughts for this tribute, I’ve found countless people who had similar stories – people who were close to him and those who weren’t, describing him the same way – as a beautiful and genuine person. He was the kind of guy who no one ever had a bad thing to say about – I never heard a negative comment about Scott in all of the years of the magazine. He was one of the good ones and there aren’t enough of them around in this world.

Rest in peace, Scott. I’m glad you aren’t in pain anymore. Your passing leaves a big hole in our community. You are loved by so many and will always be with us.

–Brent Cole

 

Scott Greene is extraordinary. 

His spirit lives so strongly inside me and I refuse to say goodbye to one of my dearest friends. Scott engineered and produced all four of my records. After what probably totaled 2 1/2 years in a recording studio alone together, and 10 years of three-hour phone conversations per week, I feel I have a unique perspective regarding Scott. Scott taught me so much about music, performance and life. We helped each other through divorces and serious illness, all without minced words or any bad feeling. He had the warmest of souls.

He was one of the most gifted players to ever come out of Bellingham, which in itself speaks volumes. Just ask any of the hundreds of people he played with over the past two decades – they will all tell you about his musical skill and his kindness. And that he touched their lives. His kindness was also his Achilles’ heel. All he ever wanted to do was work on his own music, but he could never say no. When I joked with him that he was the hardest working man in Bellingham show business, he always replied that he better not quit his day job.

I always found it interesting as to just how underrated he was in the ‘scene’, even though his chops were so evident. Scott’s songwriting was deeply introspective and his guitar work was always sizzling. Listen to his Loyal Sinners album or the new Scott Greene Band record – when you hear him playing guitar you will understand.

The worst thing about Scott’s illness was that it just so fucking brutal. It’s not fair. He took care of himself. He really did. Egg whites and personal trainers. He worked out hard and always tried to do the right thing for his health. Life’s a lottery at the best of times, but what a shitty break.

Scott’s love for comedy was always a common bond between us. His favorite movie was The Big Lebowski, and I remember laughing hysterically with him so many times at the Simpsons or Family Guy. I have so many memories, so many pictures, so much shared music. I am honored that I got to live the Scott Greene experience.

Scott’s smile and laugh were magical. This was never more evident to me the day he introduced me to Kristy Carpenter. Scott told me that he fell instantly in love with her. Two months later he received the diagnosis. Kristy you are my hero. I and so many others are forever grateful to you for taking care of our boy. Your selflessness and courage are immeasurable and you truly deserve the best life has to offer.

Scott was so happy that his record was finished. I would like to thank Chip Westerfield for his selflessness in the production room and for putting everything he had into completing the project. This album is unbelievably powerful and we will get to enjoy Scott’s newest and best songs forever because of his help.

On the day he passed, someone said to me that all there is in the end is mercy and grace. Scott was a master of both. Strong voice, strong character, strong person. Scott Greene is extraordinary.

-Boris Budd

 

Brent asked me to write something for a What’s Up! Magazine tribute issue for Scott Greene and I’ve been pondering what I could write that might possibly be meaningful. I mean, hell. What can I say about Scott that hasn’t already been said? I decided it would be easier if I just wrote a letter:

 

Dear Scott,

Remember when I first met you working behind the counter at Mojo Music? I know, it was a long time ago. Back then Mojo Music was located on the corner of Grand Ave. You were just 19 years old. You had just moved to the bright lights and big city of Bellingham, all the way from little ol’ Marble Mount. You were wearing a tie! I was teaching guitar lessons at the time, and so we were both at the store every Saturday when a steady parade of local kids would come into the store, grab a guitar off the rack, ask to try out the newest distortion pedal, plug into an amp and then show off the latest Randy Rhodes or Van Halen lick they had learned. I remember watching you watching Jon Auer and John Memolo jam head-to-head trading licks back and forth, and I smiled to myself seeing your jaw slowly drop open. You asked me for a guitar lesson and I could see in your eyes that you were born to play the guitar, and you had the burning desire to be a musician, to play in a rock band, make records, tour the world. And by God, you did all those things! You toured in Europe. You played the Mount Baker Blues Festival. You played the main stage at the Gorge. You recorded at Robert Lang Studio. You became a bonafide rock star and yet, like any true artist, you were never satisfied.

Now that you’ve gone on to the Great Gig in the Sky I would much rather celebrate your life than grieve your death, and enjoy all the magic memories and gifts of music you’ve left for the world.

(By the way, remember when I showed you how to play the Santana song “Europa” when you were 19? Well, I’m a little embarrassed about this but I gave you the wrong chords. The song is actually in C minor, not B minor like I showed you. See back in those days I learned songs from cassette tapes. My deck wasn’t properly calibrated and I didn’t realize it was playing back at the wrong pitch. Sorry about that!)

Love,

D4v3 (David Weiss)

 

“If I could be half as cool as Scott Greene, for half as long, I would die a happy man… Scott, if you weren’t my buddy, you’d be my idol… I love you brother.”

–Stone Jones

 

I won’t be redundant by saying what everyone knows of Scott: that he was one of the nicest, kindest, most helpful, talented, skillful, and funniest people you’d ever meet. That is all completely accurate and it’s been said a million times. What people may not know is that we only dated for six months before he was diagnosed. I made the decision to stay with him because I loved him and we knew we belonged together. I never left his side throughout the battle and I’ve never regretted my decision to stay with him. Now, I’m in excruciating pain. But my life was made so much more richer and meaningful by having him in it. He brought out the best in me. Qualities came out in me that I didn’t know existed because he made me want to be a better person. I am forever changed because of him and my time with him. I feel robbed of my time with him because we didn’t have enough. But grateful at the same time, for every moment we had together.

-Kristy Carpenter (partner)

 

I first met Scott back in the late 90’s at Binary Recording Studio. His band at the time, Slick Watts, was making an album. I was impressed with his guitar playing, which was outstanding, but also by his relaxed demeanor and his famous, beaming smile. Many years later, Scott hired me for a gig on Lummi Island. In order to get there, the band rode on a barge to a little cove just near the old rock quarry. We played music all evening, right on the beach. Scott’s amp was powered by a generator. Music ricocheted off of the cove walls. 

Once again, there was that beaming smile.

-Mike Bajuk

 

I recognize that no matter what Scott did, whether artistically or personally, was always positive and consistent. I worked with Scott at Manna Music for several years, We did some Sound Jobs together. He recorded some songs for Ryan Harder and myself at his studio. We did some gigs together with different bands, including The Lost Trailers on the mainstage at the Gorge in 2012. And I worked on his Guitars. I will truly miss him as well as the hundreds of friends he has had the “Scott Greene Effect” on.

–David Payne

 

 

 

Some years ago this fantastic fella, Scott Greene, became my brother. I feel incredibly blessed that I could call him family and build a genuine friendship there. As time went on I also felt quite honored professionally, in that he’d ask me for music advice. I mean we’re talking Scott Greene here! He was a guitar wizard, audio magician, and brilliant songwriter. I always found myself surprised when he’d show me something and be a little nervous about what I thought, cause it always sounded fantastic and he had a hell of a lot more time on me in the working musician realm. But he really made me feel valued when he asked. I hope I did the same for him. I learned so much from him over the years, and man, did we have some laughs! I’ll miss him forever. He was a gem of human being in this world. Now he’s the sweet soul that will fuel many inspired notes beyond.

Cheers, Shasta Bree

 

 

 

I received the text message Monday June 27, from one of Scott’s best friends for well over 20 years, his bassplayer Ron Steagall. When I read that Scott had passed that morning, I gasped. We all know that feeling of losing your breath when you lose somebody you love – it’s like that piece of them, that lives in you, is ripped away. It’s hard to breathe.

I never would have told Scott while he was alive, that he was a hero and a mentor to me. I’m prone to hyperbole to begin with, and Scott didn’t like to be fussed about in that way. He was an eye to eye person, there weren’t any pedestals in the room with him.

What I did say to him quite often – from the moment I saw him play and became friends with him – was “you are a true artist.” And then I would gush and tell him why, and we would get into discussions about the nuts and bolts of art, and music and songwriting, and politics, and discipline, and technology – first his fear of computers because he came into it late, and then his mastery of it – we would talk about all kinds of things. I think he liked it when I called him a true artist.

Scott was a mentor to me. It’s not like he took me under his wing, or I signed up as an indentured servant. He encapsulated all the things that I aspired to be – to grow into – to emulate – as an artist, as a musician, as a professional, as a writer, as a thinker, as a gentleman, as a man. Scott was like 6 or 7 years younger than me, but I looked up to him like he was the big brother.

The exception being, there was a period where I was having coffee at Fairhaven Haggen’s every morning – reading the paper, drinking latté my normal routine – and every once in a while, Scott would come in early in the morning – say hi, and he’d sit down and have coffee with me and unload about whatever he was under pressure about. Because I am a good listener, and I cared, and I’ve been around. He just needed a release valve. And that would be about 4 or 5 minutes, and then he’d thank me and rush off to work.

Back to the true artist . . . from the sources of his inspiration: his beautiful mind and passionate heart. His use of language – his sophisticated yet effortless integration of word, melody, punctuation, arrangement. His seriousness and meticulousness about his craft. Are you turned on yet?

Like all great artists, Scott was a synthesis of seeming contradictions that come together and form a complete, beautiful form. Scott wasn’t afraid artistically, and I would say emotionally and spiritually, to delve into the darkness. And when I say ‘spiritual,’ I in no way imply anything about Scott’s brand of spirituality, because honestly, I know nothing about it in terms of spoken definition or conversation. It didn’t come up, it didn’t need to. I don’t need to, because I only needed to experience him as a friend and artist, to see and feel who Scott was. Scott wasn’t negative. He was pretty much in the middle. And by middle, I’m not implying ‘middling’ or ‘middle of the road.’ I just think Scott was a normal in that he experienced the full spectrum of life, in equal measure, and he was calm and present. For the most part. He had some tortured artist angst in him – he was very driven to be better as a musician – better as a writer – better as an engineer – and part of that drive was feeling like it wasn’t good enough. Which is okay, I think this is partly what drives all musicians. We get confused and think ‘we’re not good enough,’ but it just takes a change in perspective to understand that ‘we all have room to grow.’ And Scott never stopped growing.

He was very pragmatic – a realist – but also, not afraid to dream. He understood and supported positivity, and saw the power of that. We worked on several fund-raisers over the years, including Doctors Without Borders and Grovestock (which benefits The Food Bank and Alzheimer’s), which I think is probably where I met Scott, because I went to Grovestock JUST to see Scott Greene. And then my world of friends expanded, meeting all these people and being introduced to new musicians and community. This is the second year my Ruby Flambé bandmate Bailey Ann Martinet and I will be playing the 12th Annual Grovestock, and it truly will not be the same without him, he was a fixture and the featured performer there for many years. We will play in loving tribute to him.

Scott was my favorite guitar player in Bellingham. Ever. I love to watch music as much as I love to play, and I loooove to play. There’s been a lot off good players, there are a lot of great players. There’s no ‘best’ player. Scott could do it all: blues, twang, shred, noise, make that guitar sing, cry, feedback, sweet, nasty, filthy, haunting. Whatever best served the song. The music. His music. Anybody’s music. He was a complete player, and he had that ‘extra something.’

The ‘extra something’ – the intangible alchemy that Scott possessed as a performer. The electricity. I could not wait for his solos. He was a badass. I saw him play many times, I was a big fan. He had this very relaxed swagger. He looked really great wearing a guitar. He dressed well, he looked sexy. Calm. When he played, it was like a controlled burn.

That gravely husky, weathered, comforting voice of somebody who’s been around coming out of that athletic, lithe body that looked much bigger on stage . . .because he was much bigger on stage.

When Scott and I first met, we met as peers. Not musical peers, but peers in the broader sense of being creative artists, and the even broader sense of appreciating each other as people. I appreciated Scott’s art, and he appreciated mine. He came to quite a few of my performances. It was so affirming and such an honor for me to have him come to my very creative, very goofy, and sometimes off-the-rails shows. I really wanted to be Scott’s keyboard player, and Scott wanted me to play with him.  I added some keys on an amazing song “Flesh,” on one of his albums – but the truth was, I wasn’t ready to be his regular player. Not for lack of skill or creativity or expression. I was tentative. One thing Scott always told guys who played with him, and I think anybody who has played with Scott knows this. When its your time to solo, you better hit that solo full stride and full-on with confidence and zeal from the very first note – – – or, its not going to work. And that my friends is just the stark naked truth. and it took me a while to work up to that.

I decided to record an album of my own in 2012, “Always,” which was about a 6 month project. Somehow I got Scott to commit to doing one guitar solo on my album, although I hadn’t decided what song. I had pretty much done all the foundational tracking of all the songs, I had several friends help me with drums and lead guitar to flesh out the arrangments. I wrote one last song which became that title track “Always.”  The song was about always being there for somebody, even in spirit. It wasn’t about Scott or anybody in particular per sé, but reflecting, it is apparent how much Scott was always there for somebody.

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I went to Scott’s studio at Sunset Storage to do the tracking of the guitar for “Always” – yes, the studio was in a storage locker – and it was exactly like what you would want your music room/recording studio/rehearsal space/man- cave to look like. Crammed with instruments, drum set, PAs, guitar, and his recording work station. Definitely a music laboratory.

I came to his studio with my laptop and my mix for the song. We listened to the track. He had never heard the song. I had left a long space for a guitar solo, because this is rock and roll we’re talking about. 32 bars? I’m not good at counting, It was old school length. It was basically a full-length solo – a 2 bar bridge – and then another full solo. We listened to it, he did 4 or 5 takes, each one was awesome. After he did those, he asked me if there was ‘anything else.’ I said “well, actually . . . “ For the 2 bridge between solos, I wanted that whole 2 bars to be one sustained note (or chord). Just one nasty, feedback sustain . . . that would lead into the 2nd solo section. I told him that, and he sort of looked at me quizzically and said something like ‘I’m not sure how to do that.’ And I laughed. I said “Seriously?” He said “yeah . . . I’m not sure.”  I replied ‘I see you do that all the time – I see you do that at the Shakedown – I see you hit the big power chord with the big swooping windmill stroke – you stand there in rock star pose, and then you maybe wander over to your amp and get the guitar to feed back. I see you do it all the time.” And he said something like “Oh . . . well, I don’t really know how to do that, I sort of just do it.” Like, he just did it intuitively and instinctually. But then he wanted to do it, he just wasn’t sure how to do it in the studio. He mic’d up an amp, and it was just red-lining, he was trying to figure it out. He finally isolated the amp mic’d up in the other room, cranked it up, and played the riff, while I hit ‘record’ and ‘stop.’ It took a couple of takes, but he got it. And that whole session took about 40 minutes.

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We worked on several fundraisers, I continued to get more serious about my music, I had my duo Twins Sisters with Chuck Kitterman, and we opened for Scott a couple of times, and then I sat in with Scott Greene Band at maybe 3 shows. And I felt like I had graduated! 🙂 And in the years since, I’ve become more and more serious, and Scott helped set me on the path. Just by him being there and being supportive of me, and me paying attention, just by being friends, just by observing and aspiring and noticing and striving. And I think if you’ve seen me play lately playing with Bailey Ann Martinet, I hit my solos full on, and Scott helped me get there. It wasn’t for lack of talent, its mental. And to achieve that state of being able to hit a solo like that, is freedom as a musician. That is its own mastery – that is freedom from constraint – a controlled burn, in Scott’s case – and that is when anybody is free. When your mind is free.

He was a no-nonsense guy, who had clear opinions. He was very, passionate – at times intensely so – but he also was such a calming presence, and he really had no interest in bullshit or confrontations or nonsense. Scott had the aura – he was the coolest guy in the room. I read an article on Sean Connery one time, years ago, and the author was gushing about the first time he saw Sean Connery, the original James Bond, in person. Connery was a younger man, walking on a beach in just a bathing suit, somewhere tropical, and the author said ‘Connery walked with the calm self-assurance of a black panther.” Smooth, silky, graceful. That was Scott. No pretense, just intrinsically cool. You could take in Scott’s beauty and style and self assuredness and calm – but you also realized he possessed this animal alchemy. I liken it to good sippin’ whiskey which Scott and I both enjoyed. Calming yet kick ass.

I only became friends with Scott – probably around 2009. But I was a fan of his music when I first became aware of him in The Loyal Sinners. Is there a better name for Scott’s performance persona than “Loyal Sinners”? To me, Scott was the cowboy in the black hat – who everybody thought was the bad guy – – but right at the end of the saga, he’s the hero because the guy in the white hat can’t quite get it done without the guy in the black hat, who’s actually a good guy having fun and likes to wear black. And the guy in the black hat has better clothes, is better looking, has a cooler horse, and a better smile.

There’s no structure to this – I think I have to resolve this particular goodbye. The last time I saw Scott was May 5th of this year at Greenestock, it was a fundraiser for Scott, but it was really at its root an honoring and tribute to Scott. When I arrived at the  event, there were a lot of people and I was very happy about that. I asked Dave “where’s Scott” and was told he was ailing and not going to come. And we were both heartbroken, and everybody was. But we all soldiered on with the party, and then about 40 minutes later, I heard that Scott and Kristy had arrived. He was dressed very well, and Scott had taken to wearing some very stylish hats and suits. He looked beautifully dapper. He was very weak and very pale and his voice was a whisper – although a nice gravely whisper. We spoke for about 5 minutes, and he had such grace and he had such peace in his eyes and I know it was so hard for him to be there, and his mind was sharp. And he didn’t just ask about how I was doing –  he asked about my Bailey and my friends and the important people in my life. He was very considerate in that way.

I miss Scott so much. Fuck you cancer, fuck you! Scott said fuck you cancer, because he lived out his life on his terms, with genrlemanly grace. He got some things done – another album, he travelled. If I’m jealous of one thing, its all the Mariners and Seahawks games he was going to! Can’t believe he and Kristy couldn’t take me along. Oh well. 🙂  He had a beautiful, saint of a girlfriend in Kristy Carpenter who loved and cared for him with the same grace and passion that Scott had for life and music.

Deepest condolences to Scott’s family, whom I did not know. But I am so sorry, you lost a good son, a good man, in my estimation, and in my life, a great man. He was a brother to me. I could never experience your loss, but I am heavy with sorrow, and relieved that he is released. And free.

And finally, my condolences to all in the music community, he touched so many. He was so involved, he worked with so many people on so many projects, its beyond count and measure. Anybody who played with him, knew it was a treat and honor. And he was so fun to be with.

Thank you and love you and miss you and you are forever a part of me Scott Greene.

-Bob Paltrow

 

Published in the July 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine