Back in the dim and distant past, during my former guise as music editor with various local all-music ’zines and alt-weeklies, I hosted a round table discussion, during which a few local music dignitaries and I engaged in a blindfold test. We listened to a few things, and reacted to them immediately, saying whatever came off of the top of our heads, and then published those reactions verbatim. This was a horrible idea.
I spat out a snarky comment about one of the recordings, which turned out to have been made by Chunkpipe, a much-loved local act I’d enjoyed in concert a number of times. Jeff Borycki, Chunkpipe’s frontman, took issue with what I had said, and he was right to do so – this was the mid-’90s, and I was young and dumb enough to confuse “snarkiness” with “edginess.” (Maybe I was ahead of the game, because bloggers do this very thing day in and day out these days, and make careers for themselves in the process. There’s no honor in it, though.)
A good friend of mine, who happened to be one of Borycki’s best friends, told me a few months back that Borycki had grown to respect me over the years, and was hoping I’d come to a show Chunkpipe had scheduled for the end of this summer. I planned on it. We had all grown up, and by this time, were veterans of the music scene, and survivors, too. I looked forward to reconnecting with Borycki.
So sadly, that Chunkpipe show will now be a celebration of Borycki’s life and art rather than a performance by the full band. Nearly three weeks ago, Borycki suffered a heart attack. He died shortly thereafter.
Chunkpipe was one of the most theatrical and dynamic bands in the history of Buffalo indie-rock. Taking a page from our area’s indie/art-rock godfather, Mark Freeland, Borycki also offered a nod to the early Mothers of Invention, fronting Chunkpipe in a variety of costumes based in the realm of surrealism. He was hilarious, irreverent, and fearless, and Chunkpipe’s marriage of punk, power-pop and art-rock was simultaneously ahead of its time and timeless.
A GoFundMe campaign to help defray the cost of Borycki’s medical bills for his family has been set up here. “A Celebration of Life for Jeff Borycki” will take place at Howdy’s (8166 Main St., Clarence) on Aug. 28. The Facebook event page is here.