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09/08/2010 / Hackett

Music Loses One of Its Best: Good Night Stevie J

Now Playing: Eddie Vedder – Into The Wild (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
As I sit here on 9 August 2010, the eve of what would be Steve Jacula’s 56th birthday, I try and find the word or words to explain to those of you who didn’t know him exactly what he meant to me.  Let me tell you, it’s not easy.  The easy choice is music, but it’s just not that simple.  Sure, Steve loved music.  It was his life, his passion, his work.  But more than anything, Steve loved life, and the people lucky enough to be a part of his, loved their own lives more because of him.  Thanks to Michael Heaton and his Facebook page, I was able to scroll through many, many pictures and memories of Steve in action.  I’m not going to lie, that brought many tears to my eye, but while I felt sadness at the loss of one of Chicago’s great music personalities, feelings of joy, elation, and an uncontrollable urge to smile pushed their way through the dysphoria.  Once again, the one and only Stevie J at work.
I saw Steve play at so many shows and with so many different lineups I can’t even remember all of them.  The Old Plank All Stars, the Michael Heaton Band, filling in with halfway jane, The Poor Boys, Buddy Nuisance, and Lord knows who else, but no matter who it was, he always seemed to be completely at home behind an instrument or sound board.  As you can see from all of those photos, it was never about going through the motions for Steve.  Every night on stage was another night to “move” someone new, and believe you me, every night on stage, he moved more than a few of us. 
Every time I saw Steve playing with someone, I always made a point to say “Hi”.  I always made a point to tell him how much I enjoyed watching him play, and he always argued with me that the fans were just as important, if not more so, than the people who actually made the music.  This was an argument I disputed time and time again, but I know in my heart of hearts that he truly believed his side.  Music needs more of these kinds of people.  Steve made the music for the people who enjoyed it, and that kind of selflessness is almost impossible to find these days.
My last encounter with Steve was when he played with the Michael Heaton Band at Fado in Chicago.  He was in less than perfect health, and he played most of the show leaning on a barstool because of pain in his legs.  At the first break I approached the stage to say hi to everyone and tell them how much my friends were enjoying the show.  Steve saw me and he lit up with that oh-so-familiar smile we all know and said “Hey Hackett!”.  We chatted for a bit about music, life, friends and the like, which I always enjoyed with Stevie J.  As I left the stage, I asked he and the band if I could grab them any beverages before the next set, and most requests were water, Diet Coke, and the like, and Steve asked for a water and red wine.  I gladly obliged, but once he found out I put all of his drinks on my tab for the night, he hounded me like a private detective to compensate me.  His naiveté was absolutely astounding.  He couldn’t imagine why I would be honored to buy him a couple glasses of wine in exchange for all that he’d given me over the years.  What a foolishly amazing human. 
Steve Jacula’s contributions to the music scene in Chicago and beyond are immeasurable.  His contributions to my life, however, surpass that.  How incredible does a person have to be to make you smile when you basically write a eulogy to them on your blog?  Stevie J, we love you, and we know that you’re now somewhere you won’t feel any more pain.  Stop being so selfless and freaking enjoy it, will ya buddy?  Much love…
“Our music is about everyone who consumes it.”
                          -S. Jacula


Leave a Comment
  1. Monica / Aug 10 2010 01:36

    Hes in a better place 😐

    • Hackett / Aug 16 2010 03:05

      Yes, I have no doubt in my mind, and he feels no pain now. Heaven’s going to have a lot better concerts now… =)

  2. Mary Ann Minick / Aug 10 2010 18:11

    What a beautiful tribute! I had known Steve for about 20 years and had the opportunity to work with him early on. I’d get to work or talk with him infrequently lately, but I always felt the immeasurable kindness and love that you speak about in your blog.
    The world has truly lost a wonderful soul. We are all blessed that he touched our lives.

  3. Hackett / Aug 10 2010 21:42

    Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts, Mary Ann. You are so right, we are all blessed. I just thank all things holy that I was fortunate enough to have known him and enjoyed his gifts to the world, musical and otherwise. R.I.P. Stevie J.


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