9 Oct 2010

Jeri Cain Rossi (Your Funeral / Black Cat Bone / Dolly Dillon)

Originally posted March 16, 2008
Following the recent post about Frantix and Denver underground music scene, here it is this one dedicated to Jeri Cain Rossi, vocalist of the legendary band Your Funeral. It may sounds a little bit ridiculous to you, but I remember falling in love with this band the first time I saw its 7" sleeve, even before being able to listen to its music. I didn't notice that Jeri formed Black Cat Bone until I got Homework #10 – with their impressive song “Judas Tree” – and I realized that Jeri was, in fact, their singer.
   Since early 80s Jeri has been playing music, writing novels and doing films. She lives now in San Francisco. These two songs are from years 1985-86, when she was playing with Black Cat Bone and was living in Boston. It seems that BCB were quite popular on college radios back then, and I really can understand why: they were simply amazing.

Your Funeral: Karen, Cleo, and Jeri, 1982. Duane Davis
“I met Karen from hanging out at art gallery openings, gigs. She had spent time in London and was very cool & stylish and had big aspirations. We became friends to start a band, a British influenced Cure‑ish kinda band which became Your Funeral. I knew guitar from playing folk bars in college and she picked up bass. We met Cleo who was more into the Ramones. She was in an all girl band called The Guys.
   At the time my musical style was more rootsy and pop, case in point: I Want To Be You. Besides the Cure I was also influenced by Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and especially The Gun Club (though you can’t tell by our music). The Gun Club had toured to Denver and Boulder in ’81 and that was the first time a performance changed my life. The other time was when my band opened for The Birthday Party in ’83. I wasn’t the same after either those shows.
   My lyrics were way depressing, dark. By the age of twenty four I had lost a boyfriend in an apartment fire and my father to depression. I took their deaths incredibly hard. Thus the name: Your Funeral. A little‑girl‑lost take on the impermanence of nature. Karen was way into it as well, but our dark, unsmiling broodiness drove Cleo crazy.” Jeri Cain Rossi

Your Funeral 7", Local Anesthetic, 1982
“After the initial all girl trio disbanded I reformed with Phil Teague and Michael Sidlow and that was the best formation of Your Funeral. We were loud and noisy and crazy great. I played bass. Phil played a noisy noisy rootsy style on his Fender Jaguar and Michael played drums. I threw out most of my songs except for a few and we added other songs that Phil wrote. By this time I was throwing out the gothy British thing and going for the Americana roots thing. We had volatile personalities and unfortunately we didn’t last long. The day we got the Birthday Party gig, was the day they both quit. I asked some friends to fill in and opened for the Birthday Party and it was great, but I always regret I didn’t beg Phil and Michael to let bygones be bygones and do the gig because it was truly one of the best bands I was ever in. I don’t even have a practice tape of us.” Jeri Cain Rossi

Black Cat Bone (Neal Sugarman and Jeri Rossi) @ Johnny D's, Boston, November 15, 1985. Tracy White
“The Boston scene in the 80s was incredibly inspiring with the Lyres and the Flies and later the Titantics. So many great bands. I moved out their with Michael from Your Funeral. We had patched things up and had done a punk folk duet called No Time For Flowers. Michael didn’t like Boston and moved back to Denver but I stayed and started Black Cat Bone. We had a bit of success and started getting great opening slots around town for bands such as Foetus and Sonic Youth. I had a few side bands also: Death House Pussy, Trashed Out Lez Boys, Hogtied… I can’t remember them all. After that I gave up music for a while, started writing fiction, went into the MFA program for filmmaking. When I got my MFA I moved to NYC for two years and worked in the film industry. No music.
    It wasn’t until I moved to New Orleans that my music was resurrected and I was in the greatest band of my life thus so far: Dolly Dillon. We were stripped down Americana and it was divine. The Dolly Dillon recordings are pretty much my favorite. I had finally come into my own as a songwriter and a singer and guitar player. And we went NOWHERE! After Dolly Dillon I solo’d a lot. Focused on my fiction writing, had two books published, had two plays produced.
    After Katrina I moved to San Francisco. The weather is nice. But I left my heart in New Orleans.
    By far Boston had the most bang for the buck as far as great music. But there’s something about New Orleans that lures me back again and again.” Jeri Cain Rossi

Jeri Cain Rossi, 1995. Jim Merrill

Black Cat Bone – I Need A Jerk Like You

Black Cat Bone – If Loving You Is Wrong

Dolly Dillon – Soldier Of Love (New Orleans, 1995)

Excerpts taken from an interview with Jeri in Summer 2010. My deepest gratitude, Jeri!

Update April 3, 2012
Perfect Sound Forever has published the whole interview, so now you can read it on screen – in case you want to do it in printed format, you also can order Making Waves #1.


Anonymous said...

What is the Ophelia's Mad Songs CD? The only other reference to it is on WMFU playlists.

jove moix said...

hi there,

It's a cd compilation done by Jeri, with songs from their projects black cat bone / drag / dolly dillon / ophelia jr. it's really great!
are you interested in getting a copy?

best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I inquired at the email address on her geocities site. If that doesn't pan out I may hit you up again. :)