« Keys To The Kingdom | Main | Nasty Nas »

Remembering The One And Only Evan Farrell

Farrell_evan_01l Billboard was shocked to learn today that former Rogue Wave multi-instrumentalist Evan Farrell died over the weekend from injuries suffered in an apartment fire in Oakland, Calif.

I had the pleasure of knowing Evan since 1995, when our paths crossed at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. I was introduced to him by two friends named Mark, who went on to live with Evan in a famed off-campus house on University Street.

There was always music being played in that house, whether it was one of the Marks doing vocal warm-up exercises so loudly that he could be heard from the front lawn, Bob (a jazz guitar instructor) practicing fanciful licks in the basement or Evan and the other Mark switching on the four-track to commit to tape whatever funny fragment they'd just come up with.

The house was so noisy that it often prompted angry phone calls from the elderly gentleman that lived next door. For a time, they were so frequent that the residents of the place and all their friends had the conversation down pat: "Mark, hello, this is Peter Vaughn. I think you know why I'm calling..."

I will always think fondly of one such night when Mark and Evan were recording and venting some frustration about a female friend of ours. At one point they handed me a guitar to join in on the fun, and for some reason Evan and I both remembered the experience so clearly that we brought it up to one another almost every time we hung out in the ensuing decade.

Evan was also a member of Japonize Elephants, who were like the Marx Brothers crossed with a gypsy band. They'd often just show up, all eight or nine of them, at a house party and proceed to gloriously wreck the place. The next morning, there'd be flour, muddy footprints, about two-dozen empty beer cans and maybe one of the members strewn across the living room. They signed to Bloomington label Secretly Canadian in its infancy, ensuring local cred way before SC became the national powerhouse it is now.

One of the Marks remembers unsubstantiated rumors of something called "cess," which was "some sort of living compost that the Elephants were always working on. Basically a vat of bacon grease and refuse of the like allegedly being stored in a tub for possible dumping or even stage dressing." Luckily, it was never unleashed.

Toxic substances or not, Evan was the life of any party, and often he got a little too wild and crazy for some people's tastes. Although it took some getting used to, one of his most endearing qualities was his smell; he seemed to be perpetually unshowered and unshaven, but that's how we liked him. He was always up for a good time, and he also had an encyclopedic music knowledge. Mainly though, he was one of the sweetest people you could ever hope to know: a guy who genuinely cared about the people around him.

I lost track of Evan for a few years in the early 2000s, until one night when I went to see Rogue Wave at New York's Mercury Lounge. While I was ordering a beer in the front bar, Evan casually walked past me. I exclaimed, "What the hell are you doing here?," and he told me, "Didn't you know? I'm in the band now!"

At that point he hadn't yet recorded with the group but his presence is everywhere on their 2006 album "Descended Like Vultures": you can hear Evan's wordless sound effects during the dramatic segue at the 2:35 mark of "Love's Lost Guarantee" and also during the swirling midsection of "Are You on My Side."

Evan left Rogue Wave early this year, apparently under not the best of circumstances. I never pried, and he never exactly explained what happened. But he kept playing music, and he was enjoying reconnecting with his Japonize Elephants mates. In fact, he had gone out to Oakland to play some shows with them before the holidays.

Evan leaves behind two young sons. A memorial fund has been set up via PayPal and can be accessed by clicking here. Farewell, my friend. Your zest for life will be sorely missed. -- Jonathan Cohen

December 27, 2007 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Remembering The One And Only Evan Farrell:


Jonathan- thanks for your kind words about Evan, he was a wonderful person and a true original.

Posted by: Jeb | Dec 27, 2007 4:46:08 PM

It is a daunting task to capture Evan's personality in the written form. To call him an ebullient persona would be an understatement. He was part comedian, part musician, part gypsy, and all sweetheart. The last time I saw him he must have shown me those wallet photos of his boys 5 times in one evening!! I am shock that he is not with us anymore.

Posted by: Mark | Dec 27, 2007 6:05:13 PM

Evan had a trademark odor, but still I never minded giving him a hug. He was that sweet of a guy. His eccentricity, his talent, his cartoon character-like demeanor...we were floored by all of it.

Posted by: Rubes | Dec 27, 2007 6:26:45 PM

Thank you for your wonderful words about Evan. This man had become very much a part of our family when he married my sister. Though we were not there to witness his band side of life, we were there sitting around the campfire in the summers listening to his talent with his guitar. His love for his children, neices and nephews was overwhelming, he was so special to them. We are so thankful for his wonderful, supportive circle of friends that will be so important to my sister in the days to come. Rest now my friend and brother.

Posted by: Paige | Dec 27, 2007 6:33:31 PM no no no no no no... Not supposed to happen to such a wonderful person. Evan, if you're listening man.. I'm so glad I got to know you this last year in Bloomington. Holy shit man.. I can't believe this. You won't be forgotten..

Posted by: kevinfitz | Dec 27, 2007 7:42:18 PM

Anyone who met Evan remembered meeting Evan. It was inspiring how free of inhibitions he was. No matter what risks he took he always landed on his feet with a smile. People would just give him instruments- a set of drums, a red hollow bodied guitar, a stand up bass - because he was one of the most natural musicians you ever saw. Anything he played was full of the wildness, sweetness and creativity of his charismatic personality. I remember a late drunken night in the kitchen - Evan slamming the wall to the beat as he sang the theme to Fletch: "Bit by Bit. One way or another." I remember the excitement he had about each new band he introduced me to. I miss you buddy.

Posted by: Devers | Dec 27, 2007 9:32:29 PM

Kevinfitz - you're more right than you know when you say Evan won't be forgotten. I haven't heard of or about Evan in over 12 years. But I will always distinctly remember his mark on the Burlington, VT music scene. Evan really makes the scene, doesn't he? Made, rather. I had no idea he had married or taken on fatherhood. And that chrome dome! He was always the kid to us (with lots of unwashed smelly hair). We knew Evan through his older brother Liam. We knew Evan as a kid who wasn't legal in the bars he was playing in. And man was he a whack job. Holy crap. I couldn't get enough of that kind of crazy. And ultimately, yes, Evan was one of those uber-talented musicians, right? Total feel player.

So no, Kevinfitz, you might only have just gotten to know him, but Evan had that special way of indelibly burning himself into your memory that I can personally attest is just as clear 12 years later as when the good times were rolling.

Peace, Evan.

Posted by: John | Dec 27, 2007 10:01:32 PM

I am saddened to hear the news of Evan. I met him down in Oakland 4-5 years ago via my husband who lived with him at I.U. He was always the life of the party. Wacky, and silly and really really sweet. He was a wonderfully talented musician. Whenever he was in Seattle with Rogue Wave we would always go see him at shows and he always took the time to give a hug and say hello. Evan, you will be missed but not forgotten

Posted by: Mackenzie | Dec 27, 2007 11:41:57 PM

Evan was a force of nature. I hadn't seen him in a few years, but somehow just knowing that people like Evan are out there makes the world a better place. It's hard to believe someone like Evan could be gone. I'll miss the impromptu, front-porch picking sessions that Evan just seemed to randomly show up for. Rest in peace, Evan.

Posted by: Josh | Dec 28, 2007 11:38:57 AM

Evan was a force of nature. I hadn't seen him in a few years, but somehow just knowing that people like Evan are out there makes the world a better place. It's hard to believe someone like Evan could be gone. I'll miss the impromptu, front-porch picking sessions that Evan just seemed to randomly show up for. Rest in peace, brother.

Posted by: Josh | Dec 28, 2007 11:39:41 AM

Always a hero to me ........
from day one tilll.....
My close friend from grammer school through high school and on . We did it all together. He was the first person i did a lot of things for the first time with . Rite and wrong . He might be the only person who can make me have to change my pants even when hes not in the room . Funny Mother . Loosing touch with him over the years was only the begining of this great loss to me and to All . I tried to find him for a long time . I even used him as my screen saver on my pc . I took it off my computer not even a month ago after a year and a half . I didnt want to track him down this way . Evan brought me together with very close friends i havent talked to in 12-13 yrs through this . Evan always had a way to bring people together . Always . He was a freak of nature in All Good Ways . Your not gone from me bro . Never..........

Posted by: Bonz | Dec 28, 2007 4:02:01 PM

Evan was awesome in every way. Although he's my little cousin, I looked up to him in so many ways. He was sweet and ridiculously talented at everything he did. I never worried about Evan, he always seemed to land on his feet, smiling the whole time. He never asked for much and would give you his last dime if you needed it. He loved life and was a friend to all. Although I didn't see him much after he moved to Indiana, I always smiled just knowing a person like him existed. I'll remember him as the sweet little boy who was so trusting of everyone and who saw the absolute best in everyone. I can't believe someone so full of life and promise is gone so quickly from our lives.

Posted by: mit | Dec 28, 2007 7:44:13 PM

I am devastated by the loss of my beautiful friend, Evan. He was one of the funniest people I've ever known. I have so many colorful memories because of Evan. i can't believe a person who is so alive could possibly be gone. so full of life, so warm and loving, so smart and special.
i'm thinking so much of his wonderful wife and family right now
you are in my heart, you have made my life better

Posted by: shannon | Dec 28, 2007 10:29:55 PM

I knew Evan for less than a year and the impression he left on me was that of humor, kindness, and spontaneity. I remember listeing to him singing Hollows songs with Kate, Alex, and Brad. I remember him singing along to Lazy John and Rueben with the Fatted Calf Stringband. I remember him being the life of the party even in the aisles of the grocery store where I last saw him.

Posted by: Chris | Dec 29, 2007 2:09:17 PM

I knew him for a short time, a long time ago. Still, I can just close my eyes and picture him as real as yesterday. Full of vibrant energy...full of goodness.

Posted by: Ferris | Dec 29, 2007 2:30:03 PM

I met Evan when we were both asked to join Sylvan and Meegan's klezmer band, the Hunted Haunted Bazerghan Klezmorkestra. This was around 1999, when Bob's Bacon Barn at Smith and Grant was the Elephant crash pad. What music, what misfits, what blissful magic!
I was so happy to have met such a unique fellow as Evan that I tried to show up places where I thought he would be, just so I might laugh out loud for a half hour straight again. Cuzin' Evan said it made him uncomfortable when I told him that he was the only guy that could make me pee my pants, but it was true. And it remains true, as even just his face in my mind's eye can still split my side! And so his spirit lives on! That fellow is immortal, I'm sure of it.
You know the type of musician that plays one note and you melt? How about the type that reminds you to practice more? Or the type that makes you never want to stop playing? Evan had that magic touch, and I would argue that he still does, because those of us who met him, who had the great privilege of playing music by his side, and those of us who just sat transfixed at a show that he was playing on, seeing him in action changed us inside a little, or a lot as the case may be!
Let's all take his inspiration to heart and continue along the good path that he lit so brightly for us. Lets all try to make someone's day, every day!
Cuzin' Evan, I'll miss you as much as I ever did when it had been too long since I had seen you last. Please keep up the good work!

Posted by: Kid Kazooey | Dec 30, 2007 8:37:08 PM

Once at a party, Evan was asked by someone's mom what he did. After a somewhat amusing description, the mom said "So basically, you're a hooligan?", to which Evan replied "Yeah."

I really have to say that despite all the foolishness, or maybe because of it, I don't know, Evan was Bloomington's premier Willie Nelson interpreter. Of course Momma's are *supposed* to let their babies grow up to be cowbows, and Evan is the perfect example of why. You just had to hear him play to know why.

In fact here, check this out. Here he is playing a couple tunes on my back porch at my birthday party last spring:

Posted by: neightd0g | Dec 30, 2007 9:31:37 PM

Evan’s brother Liam and I played in a band together. The year that Evan took off after high school, he came to live with him in Burlington. I remember Liam telling me how talented his little brother was. I expected talented, but that didn’t fully describe him. On top of that you got Evan’s being. He taught us in the band a lot about music. In the process of being around each other, I got to observe a person I knew was meant for great things. Talent was in his DNA, and for those of you who know Liam and the rest of his family, you can attest that it runs in the family. He left for Indiana after that year, and I got to see him only handful of times since. He left a mark on most who knew him. I made sure we spoke at least once a year. We caught up recently. I will really miss those conversations. I am especially sorry that my boys won’t get to meet him.

If you are interested to hear Evan as a teenage rock star sensation download the songs below. The looseness (kind word for sloppiness) of our old band is charming. Evan’s belting is pure energy. His guitar playing is overwhelming.
Track 1 is a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven't Done Nothing”. Mr. Wonder would be proud.

Check out Evan’s improv blues that he busts into while the drummer fixes his pedal during a show.

Also singing Zappa’s “City of Tiny Light’s” is impressive. The guy was 18 or 19!

And finally “I’m so tired”.

Posted by: Peru | Dec 31, 2007 6:52:16 AM

I can clearly recall my every encounter with Evan. His presence was so huge!
He sat in with my band this year playing pedal steel. I was blown away by his humor and talent and admire him greatly.

One night in July he and I loaded up his big yellow van with equipment to play at the Bluebird. When we arrived Evan put a dent in the side of the van when he hit a utility pole in the narrow alley, and then scraped the other against the building. I felt really guilty because he was doing us a great favor by playing. He shrugged it off completely.
We were early. Nobody was there to unlock the door. So Evan told me hilarious tour stories including past van mishaps for nearly an hour.

I envy his energy. I'll miss him.

Posted by: David | Dec 31, 2007 4:17:40 PM

I didn't hear of this news until today, due to being out of town over the holidays. I had the opportunity to hang with Evan a few times and it was a pure joy every time. He always had the greatest, heartfelt greeting every time he saw you and never failed to make me laugh. My greatest memory of him was him staying at my house one year and braving the newly converted garage-to-bedroom because he snored so loud. We hung out late talking about his dogs and him doting on mine. He was a great guy and will be sorely missed.

Posted by: Jeff | Jan 7, 2008 10:47:09 PM

I am extremely proud to say that Evan was my nephew. My husband [Randy] is Bob Foster's brother. Bob married Debra when Evan and Liam were little boys.

I watched Evan grow up, get his first Guitar, I saw him in a HS musical about the signing of the declaration of Independence and of course, he was the comedian and star of the show. I once met the Japonize Elephant crew on his mom's back porch in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. They rocked all night!!

I continued to try to keep up with him by signing up to receive Rogue Wave's updates by email. I have bought all his albums. I stayed up for the Late Late Late show to see them play.

The last time I saw Evan was at his sister's wedding in Louisiana. How proud of her he was. Of course he played at the wedding, before and after. It was a good time and it was great to see him.

Evan always amazed me and I enjoyed his talent, humor and energy. I will truly miss him.

I hope that Debra [Evan's mother] has had the opportunity to read of these amazing words from all of you. She really needs all of you along with lots of hugs.

My deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Jill and her two sons. She needs everyone's support as well.

See you In Indiana! I am sure that Bloomington will rock on for days!!

Dear dear Evan the world will not be the same without you.

From one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs:

Eyes of the World

Sometimes we live no
particular way but our own
Sometimes we visit your country
and live in your home
Sometimes we ride on your horses
Sometimes we walk alone
Sometimes the songs that we hear
are just songs of our own

Wake up to find out
that you are the eyes of the world
but the heart has its beaches
its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you
are the song that the morning brings
but the heart has its seasons
its evenings and songs of its own

Love you

Posted by: Jill | Jan 7, 2008 11:09:51 PM

I cant believe it.

I went to high school with Evan, played in a band with him for a year...he had only been playing electric for 6 months and he was already amazing.

such a natural musician, such an amazing person.

he will be missed

cant believe hes gone.

Posted by: Pilaf | Jan 15, 2008 1:00:07 AM

I really didn't know Evan, but I had the pleasure of seeing him perform with Jason Molina's band Magnolia Electric Co. on September 21, 2007 in Atlanta, GA. and September 22, 2007 in Athens, GA. He seemed like a real nice guy. He even signed the wooden box that MECO's recent box set came. I videoed both shows and hope to have them edited soon. So, keep an eye out on YouTube and the MECO website for the videos. I have no way of knowing, but they might possibly be the last images that were ever made of Evan.

Posted by: ElRoi | Feb 27, 2008 3:12:45 PM

I really didn't know Evan, but I had the pleasure of seeing him perform with Jason Molina's band Magnolia Electric Co. on September 21, 2007 in Atlanta, GA. and September 22, 2007 in Athens, GA. He seemed like a real nice guy. He even signed the wooden box that MECO's recent box set came. I videoed both shows and hope to have them edited soon. So, keep an eye out on YouTube and the MECO website for the videos. I have no way of knowing, but they might possibly be the last images that were ever made of Evan.

Posted by: ElRoi | Feb 27, 2008 3:13:09 PM

Дикие кабаны:
Отряд парнокопытных (Ordo Artiodactyla), род (Genus sus); семейство свиней (familia suidae).

Posted by: HANTING | Mar 24, 2009 12:41:45 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

© 2010 Billboard. All rights reserved.
Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.