In August of 2018, 11 acts, two producers and a few assistants set to work on a recording project that would become a tribute to a fallen friend. Just two months after 33-year-old Niagara musician, sound tech and producer Jordan Rutledge’s passing on June 7, 2018, these artists came together to make a record in Jordan’s honour.
During that summer, Joe Lapinski had been renting the Oddfellow’s Temple to set up his WOW! Pop Up Recording Studio. At the time, Rutledge had been weighing heavy on Lapinski’s mind and thought ‘what should the community do?’ So he reached out to one of Rutledge’s closest friends, Arih Struger-Kalkman, and the two started planning the project.
Whether it was booking bands and mixing shows, filming webisodes or recording and producing and playing on records together, Struger-Kalkman and Rutledge worked together on the many facets of their production company, Band on a Couch. Outside of their company, the two were as close as two friends could be.
“I didn’t know Jordan as well as Arih and the rest of the Band on a Couch folks, but his passing hit me hard. This was someone that was deep in our arts community and was super hard working and doing great things. People loved him and I saw that. It really hit me. I realized I wanted to find a way to help pay our respects to him. So for me, it was like, ‘I’ve got the means to record a record’, so we did that,” said Lapinski.
Over the course of three days during a hot spell in August, artists and guests would come and go from the Oddfellow’s Temple, laughing and crying, sharing stories while they waited for their turn to share their affections or grief. The end result is a beautiful compilation of 11 songs, titled Good & Fast, Loud & Proud: Jordan Rutledge Tribute Album.
“It was about capturing a moment of emotion. People would be there talking and thinking of Jordan, smiling or crying or whatever. Then we’d say, all right, we’re ready for you and the artists would do their thing. You hear that on the record,” said Lapinski.
“It was really interesting working together with Joe as a producer,” added Struger-Kalkman. “We had never worked on anything like this before and it felt nice doing it while I was working on a record for Jordan because so much of my friendship was built around music, and making records together, that it really felt right to be doing this for him.”
On October 26 at 8pm, A Tribute Show for Jordan Rutledge will take place at Mahtay Cafe, with most of the performers from the album performing short sets. All proceeds from the show and from the album will be donated towards mental health and addictions support groups.
- DRFTR – Push On
- Pablo Paddy – Whatever it is I am trying to be
- Birds of Ontario – Dearly Departed
- Tragedy Ann – Odysseus
- Probable Fog – Equal Parts
- Knife the Wolf – Robert Frost
- Charles J. Hunk – Hard on Me
- Stereo Sunrise – Gold
- Laurel Minnes – Darkness [Jordan]
- The Mandevilles – Sky High
- Chantal Barrette – Monsters
“We passed a fun morning filming ‘Whatever it is I am trying to be’ with Band on a Couch back in 2015. When we were asked to pick a song for his tribute album, it made sense to select something that Jordan had worked on with us in the past. The song has been a crowd-pleaser during our live show and it’s an honor to be able to include it in a project that pays tribute to Jordan and helps to memorialize his contribution to Niagara music.”
— Pablo Paddy
“When I heard that an album dedicated to Jordan was in the works, I wanted to write a song as tribute. I really had Jordan’s family in mind, especially Bob, Jordan’s father. Having experienced a lot of loss in my life, combined with the fact that I was a brand new dad, I just couldn’t imagine what Bob was going through. When I sat down to write ‘Dearly Departed’ it came together quickly and naturally, and it’s from the heart.”
— Eric Lepp, Birds of Ontario
“We didn’t know Jordan for too long, but we miss running into him. One night in particular, though, we realized we didn’t know Jordan all that well. It didn’t change our opinion of him, but it was the last time we ever saw him, and this song is about that night.”
— Probable Fog
“We couldn’t bring ourselves to write a new song so we picked one that Jordan loved. And we had the chance to record it the way we imagined, with the people who wanted to be a part of it. When it was done, we realized the only thing missing was Jordan wasn’t there for it.”
— Knife the Wolf
“‘Hard On Me’ is a song that was written by Everet Luciow, and played by Knife The Wolf. I’ve always loved the song, and after Jordan passed, the song took on a whole new meaning. That sadness of knowing you can never talk to, or share a moment with a friend again.”
— Charles J. Hunk
“It came to us in an instant when Piero presented the piece of music beneath the song. It was beautiful and the lyrics just came out of me. Arih added some magic afterwards and Mark just kept it wonderfully simple.”
— Justin Koetsier, Stereo Sunrise
“The song was written as a direct response to his passing. I didn’t know how else to process, so I spent the day writing and recording the song, allowing myself to feel everything fully. It is a raw representation of my grief and how I felt that day. I hope it honours him and his memory as I intended.”
— Laurel Minnes
“We were in the middle of writing ‘Sky High’ when Jordan passed. Needless to say, the song took on a whole new meaning and became ‘his’ song. It’s a freeing, floating, wave of emotional release.”
— The Mandevilles
“I wrote ‘Monsters’ the month after Jordan’s passing, after returning from a music festival. At the festival I was introduced to a quote from an American artist – Rev. Sekou; ‘When monsters say that we should lie down and die, the art of loving and living is the sacred task of artists — making home from rubble held together by the very thing that monsters have sought to snuff out for ages — joy. Artists are architects of being; building communities where there are no strangers only neighbors. And monsters fear that.’ Mental health was that monster for Jordan. It was Jordan’s pure passion and dedication to music that constructed such a varied and strong community around him. ‘Monsters’ for me is also a reminder; monsters exist but they are powerless. We give and can take their power.”
— Chantal Barrette