As soon as you meet Chris Aaron, you realize you have a new friend and feel like you have known him your whole life. And I believe he felt the same way about everyone he met. He was that type of guy. If you have ever met him, you have never forgotten it.
The first time we connected was in our office at Broadjam. He and his wife, Lisa Bethke, had come in from Colorado and were promoting one of their projects, The Bandallamas. This was an all-star band of local and national musicians including Victor DeLorenzo, Richard Davis, Bobby Bryan, Wally Ingram, Pauli Ryan and Rob Wasserman. Both Chris and Lisa were extremely passionate about this project. But more importantly, they couldn’t stop talking about all the musicians in the band. It was clear that they are not only musicians, they are truly fans of music and especially those they gigged with.
Chris died last week at age 44. Although I didn’t know Chris that well, I had a tear in my eye. I will never understand why good people go so early, especially when they are giving so much art, peace and happiness to the world. I’m sure his closest friends would agree that a good soul has been taken way too early.
As a musician, Chris was an awesome & tasteful blues player. When looking at his Facebook page, his photos include a Who’s Who of the Wisconsin music scene. Jim Schwall, Pauli Ryan, Clyde Stubblefield, Duke, Westside Andy, Darren Sterrud, Tony Menzer, Perry Weber, Jim Voegeli, Pat MacDonald and many others. Every photo shows Chris smiling, gigging or both.
As we get older, our friends and family seem to pass on a more frequent basis. I guess this is just a part of life. When a special person like Chris leaves us at such a young age, we step back and think about what is really important.
I am sad that he has moved on and will remember his spirit and gift. He was a great person, who had extreme depth and personality. My sincere condolences to Lisa and all of her family and friends. Rest In Peace Chris.
There is a fund set up to help his kids with college tuition. You can find the link here on his website.
The Jimmys are: Jimmy Voegeli -(2014 Madison Area Music Association Keyboardist of the Year) Hammond Organ, Piano, Electric Rhodes, Vocals/Mauro Magellan (Georgia Satellites)-Drums and Percussion/John Wartenweiler – (2014 MAMA Bassist of the Year) Electric and Acoustic Bass/Darren Sterud – (2014 MAMA Brass of the Year) Trombone/Perry Weber – Guitars and Vocals/Bryan Husk – Tenor and Baritone Saxophones/Chad Whittinghill – Trumpet and Flugelhorn/Pete Ross – Alto Saxophone
Breakthrough Artist of the Year Annabel Lee
New Artist of the Year Gabe Burdulis
Compilation Album of the Year Karen Wheelock Smilin’ On
Cover Song of the Year Mark Croft “Dancing in the Dark (Live)”
Meritorious Achievement Award Sheilah Kring
Video Of The Year Beth Kille “I’ve Been Accused”
Ensemble Vocalists of the Year Natty Nation
Female Vocalist of the Year Annabel Lee
Male Vocalist of the Year Kyle Henderson
Bassist of the Year John Wartenweiler of The Jimmys
Brass Instrumentalist of the Year Darren Sterud of The Jimmys
Drummer/Percussionist of the Year Joey B Banks
Guitarist of the Year Michael Tully
Keyboardist of the Year Jimmy Voegeli
Specialty Instrumentalist of the Year Chris Wagoner (Lap Steel)
Strings Instrumentalist of the Year Mary Gaines
Woodwinds Instrumentalist of the Year Trevor Hoffman of The Rotation
People’s Choice Awards:
Cover Band Performer of the Year John Masino Band
DJ of the Year Nick Nice
Live Sound Engineer of the Year Lonya Neneshev
Local Live Music Venue of the Year High Noon Saloon
Local Music Fan of the Year Sarah Warmke
Local Music Publication/Blog of the Year Isthmus
Local Music Radio Personality of the Year Gabby Parsons
Local Music Radio Station of the Year 89.9 WORT
Local Recorded Music Store of the Year B-Side Records
Album Packaging of the Year Harmonious Wail Bohemian Tango
Photographer of the Year John Urban
Producer of the Year Mike Zirkel
Recording Studio of the Year Audio for the Arts
Roadie of the Year Ralph Shively
Studio Sound Engineer of the Year Mike Zirkel
Female Vocalist of the Year Helen Feest of The Blue Sundays
Woodwinds Instrumentalist of the Year Robert Stine from Middleton High School
Keyboardist of the Year Adam Goren from Middleton High School
Song of the Year The Blue Sundays “Mary Anne”
Launchpad 2014 Madison Regional Finalist Distant Cuzins
Launchpad 2014 Madison Regional Finalist Prom Queen Rejects