When you talk about the end, it’s not always easy to find where to begin, the sadness that overwhelmed me when I found out about Kevin Dziadon’s death might be disproportionate; we only wrote each other rarely, and since we’d both chosen the life of expatriates, he in Brussels, and I in Illinois, we really only saw each other once a year or so.
Music was what drew Kevin and I closer. Our cowboy wasn’t easy to get acquainted with; a big mouth with a gift for witty repartee, it was very easy to take him the wrong way. I could digress on the real shyness of extroverts, blablabla. Meeting Kevin and his friends for the first time was a very singular experience. We all have private jokes reserved for a close circle of friends, anecdotes we fall back on when needed. With Kevin, you had to discover a whole private language. Many of my friends, put off by the whole thing, never looked further. For a long time, I had my own doubts. Eventually, after a period of trial and error, and after seeing a flame light up in his eyes at the mention of Fugazi, I realized once again that my first impression was not necessarily the best.
Indeed. He played the bass in the Bargos Steeler, one of the best musical surprises to befall me during my stay at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The music of the bargos Steeler was in Kevin’s image in many regards, progressive, hyperactive, funny and subtle. Some of his friends called it construction rock, because a name is needed for everything, especially what is hard to classify. A few years ago we would have called it post-rock, because their music was mostly instrumental, that the structure of their songs wasn’t classic rock, because it was skillful without being pretentious, original without forcing it. Yasmine, his girlfriend until the end, had offered to go see his band on stage, so Kate and I had gone, our arms crossed, ready for anything. You never know. They had set Mike and Molly’s on fire that night, Kevin and Dheeru swaying like jacks out their boxes, bouncing up and down, drummer Aaron efficiently providing a bridgehead for the assault.
Of course, ever uneasy in complimenting people, I had never found the words to tell how much this concert had impressed me. I would see them a second time and never again, and soon Kevin was moving to Belgium with Yasmine. He would spread the groove over there too, more or less successfully.
The last time I saw him, he gave me a compilation of his favorite songs of the year, including those he’d recorded with his new band. The music was different, generally calmer and less to my taste. He lived in a foreign city where he had a hard time finding a job, or even musical affinities to start a band. But contrary to me, at least he kept things moving.
I hadn’t heard news of him since Xmas. You know how it is, the internet is a very nice tool for communication, but it also makes it easier not to write at all. Coming back from another stupid job in the city, the news hit me hard in the shape of a phonecall.
Kevin was buried on July 28th in his hometown of Bourbonnais, Illinois. This was two weeks ago. Since then , the Bargos Steeler’s Classic Steve will not stop playing. A sort of homage, I guess. I can’t find the contact info of the label that put it out, but it seems you can still buy it here, and I’m sure Dheeru can help the curious. It’s worth it. I hear his Belgian music can now be heard on this website. It’s not too late to meet Kevin, and you will find a lot of him in the bouncing bass lines on Classic Steve.
Rest in peace.