The Coalition of Aging Rockers has lost a comrade, and he likely was the cleanest liver of the bitter bunch, the least alcoholic and most studious, but it was his damn kidneys that gave out anyway at the age of 40. Billy Joel & later Me First & The Gimme Gimmes have reminded me musically that “only the good die young“, and indeed that seems true, as we have sadly lost another one of the good guys.
Longtime local SF musician Lance Hahn, who lovingly named his punk rock band after his favorite Muni streetcar line has died after long battles with kidney ailments in an Austin Texas hospital this past weekend. Best known for fronting his band J Church, Hahn operated out of San Francisco from the early 90’s for almost a decade until he relocated from a flat near 16th on Valencia St to Austin in 2000.
He had originally come from Hawaii circa 1990 with a scrappy trio known as Cringer, which played shows at venues like The Women’s Building, Komotion & Berkeley’s Gilman St Project. Eventually he formed J-Church which released literally hundreds of recordings on tiny indie record labels all over the world including his own Honey Bear imprint. While not a technically gifted singer, he parlayed a vast array of musical influences including everything from Crass, The Mob, Radiohead, Poi Dog Pondering to ELO, into a blend of pop infused punk that became uniquely identifiable & influential, remaining well regarded in the underground music scene. He had no shortage of themes & subjects, composing improbable rock titles like “Leni Riefenstahl’s Tinder Box”, “The Dramatic History Of A Boring Town” , or “Socialist Newspaper”, all the while delivering each song with an overall emotional sincerity rarely heard in a jaded age. One memorable release to check out would have to be his Mission District opus “Camels, Spilled Coronas & The Sound of Mariachi Bands”. For those who’d like a broader overview, perhaps the compilation of rare 7″ tracks called “Nostalgic for Nothing”.
For more on Lance Hahn and his life, and some video & sonic samples of his songwriting, head below the fold…
pic courtesy Fat Wreck Chords