tides come in, tides go out.

Josh Silverman from Shirk Circus died yesterday.

Within the last year, we lost some brilliant indie musicians – Vic Chestnutt, Jerry Fuchs of Maserati, Mark Linkous.  When it happened, I sympathized with their fans, who would never get to hear any new music again, never get to hear what those people would accomplish in the world, artistically.  It stung to think of it, and I couldn’t help but think that with death being a natural part of things, eventually another part of Dromedary would go.  When Rich died just a little over nine years ago, it took music from me altogether, it killed Dromedary for nine years.  But it also made me realize how much we all have to accomplish – I saw somebody write this just recently, that what they did today was really important, because they were trading an entire day of their life for it.

I met Josh around the later part of 1995, on the internet.  Josh and I both participated in a few different online forums for indie rock fans, so I’m not sure which one I met him on, but we’d already had a few mutual friends and I was a fan of his music.  Ray Ketchem from Melting Hopefuls had produced the two Shirk Circus albums that came out on Bar/None in the 90s, and I was a huge fan of both records.  They played some shows with Footstone, so I knew who Josh was from that as well.  At some point, for some reason, one of us reached out to the other, and we struck up an email discussion.

It wasn’t long at all before we discovered that we had a lot of shared interests musically.  We became friendly right away, and within just a few weeks had decided that we’d work together.  And without discussing terms, or contracts, or anything like that, Josh put a DAT in the mail, of the great unreleased Shirk Circus song “In Time.”

I fell in love with the song immediately, but fell out of love with Dromedary pretty soon after that.  When I put Dromedary on hiatus, I really put it on hiatus – Jim Testa and Ralph from Footstone were probably the only Dromedary-related people (besides Sandy, obviously) that I stayed in touch with during that time.

It was this entry in this very blog that I made back in November of 2009 that Josh stumbled onto.  His comments re-opened a dialog that resulted in us picking up right where we left off, emailing back and forth and deciding once again to work together.  We exchanged paperwork and he sent me recordings of an unreleased Shirk record to come out on Dromedary.  On February 6, Josh took the stage with his then-band The Dark Brothers, opening for the FRC and Stuyvesant reunion shows that marked the return of Dromedary.  It was the first time I’d ever met Josh in person, after all those years.

On October 22, former members of Shirk reunited and played our CMJ showcase at Maxwell’s, along with Jenifer Convertible, Stuyvesant and The Mommyheads.  They were fantastic; Josh was on top of his game and after the band’s set, we chatted a bit – he was excited about bringing Shirk Circus back, about playing with the group of musicians he’d assembled.  Our emails back and forth got more frequent and I could feel his enthusiasm in the words he wrote.

On Friday, Shirk’s drummer Paul sent me an email to let me know Josh had passed in the morning.

I’ve spent the last two days listening to Josh’s amazing guitar playing and beautiful, emotional songwriting.  Exchanging emails and feeling horribly for his family and close friends.  And, as I did with Jerry Fuchs and Marc Linkous and Vic Chestnutt, coming to the realization that we’ve lost another great indie artist, from whom we’re never going to hear anything new.

The world is worse off because Josh Silverman won’t be putting any more new music into it.  But he’s got a great legacy of beautiful songs.  I strongly recommend you check out the two Shirk Circus albums on Bar/None, as well as the two self-released Dark Brothers albums that are available on iTunes.  Those are four great places to start.

~ by Al on February 5, 2011.

4 Responses to “tides come in, tides go out.”

  1. i totally forgot what i was going to write.
    and then i forgot again. do you still have the emails? the music? i’m sorry i encouraged people not to enter the contest for your label. um, and how do we get it so when people type josh silverman into search engines, it will always come up josh my brother and NOT the guy who invented Skype? I really just want to read about josh-josh and not the other joshes.
    is this something we can make happen?
    thank you,

    • So go back and tell them to enter the contest! There’s still three days, I’m trying to increase our fans!

      I have the more recent emails, but since I’ve never thrown away a computer or deleted an email, I’ll bet I have the old ones somewhere as well. I also have the music. I can’t help you with the Skype thing.

      And I’m really, really sorry about your brother. If you don’t have this music, please reach out to me privately and I will get you a copy of everything I have right away.

  2. I missed Shirk Circus when they were around, but stumbled upon both Bar None CDs in the used bin about 10 years ago. Great stuff, sorry to hear that Josh Silverman has passed.

    Could someone who is associated with Shirk Circus please do a proper Wiki article on them? There is very little info about this band on the interweb. Discogs only has one release by them listed (March). AMG and Trouser Press have a little more but not much. This blog has the most info, thanks!

    • Hi Raul,

      The third Shirk Circus album, “This Band Will Destroy Your Life,” was released on Dromedary this past October. Sadly Josh was not around to see it happen, but his family and friends are keeping his music alive. If you scan through this blog you’ll find a few other articles about Josh, some of which he entered comments into.

      As for a Wiki article, I’m hesitant to do a Wiki article about any of our bands, for the same reason I don’t have one about Dromedary. There should be a Wiki article about Dromedary and ALL of our bands! As of now, it’s just the Mommyheads that have one. Perhaps some enterprising fan/friend will undertake the task…

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