If you ever thought hand-written letters were only good for grandmas and thank you notes think again, because pen and paper was all it took for the Billiken Club to land one of the most elusive musicians in the world.
Jandek is an “outsider” musician, meaning he does not conform to a single genre or style, although some people refer to his work as blues. Rather, Jandek includes individual elements that change from show to show. One night he could be playing the piano or guitar while on the other he might incorporate spoken word into his set. You never know what you’re going to get with Jandek, and that’s only half of the allure.
Back in 1978 Jandek self released an anonymous album, which was then followed by dozens through his record label, Corwood Industries. For a quarter of a century this man was an enigma, refusing to take photographs, grant interviews or promote himself in any way. Somehow the music he made in his small Texas studio was enough to influence big names like Beck and Sonic Youth.
It was not until 2003 that Jandek came forward as the musician with a cult college following in an 89-minute documentary, “Jandek on Corwood.” The movie delved into the mysterious life of the musician through the perspectives of those he had inspired the most. Even though Jandek did not make an appearance on the documentary, there were numerous interviews with those in the music industry who spoke about their respect for his work and wish for privacy.
Many could argue that the ambiguity only inspired fans to go to greater lengths in order to come face to face with the man responsible for the revolutionary music. Almost miraculously so, Jandek can still only be reached by a P.O. Box, which was exactly how the Billiken Club got him to consider St. Louis. What began as a joke between the KSLU staff to write Jandek actually ended up resulting in a call last summer asking to set up a date for the show.
To put this into perspective, Jandek will only perform two shows in the United States during 2014, with one being here at SLU. This will ultimately be the largest show for the Billiken Club, who in the past has also hosted big names like Bon Iver. The fact that SLU students with an I.D. can experience this unique show for free is also pretty incredible.
Doors will open to the Billiken Club at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 21. For those who haven’t been to a show before, the club is located in Salsarita’s at the BSC.
Also, Jandek has a tradition of releasing the recordings of his live shows. The records are entitled simply by the name of the city and day of the week where he performed, so after Friday night’s set keep an eye out for “St. Louis Friday.” This will certainly be a claim to fame for the students behind the Billiken Club for years to come.
It all goes to show, don’t underestimate the impact a simple letter can have, even in our digital world.