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  • Andy Valeri, Big Beef Productions

Gregg Spence - Departure File

It's been twenty four years now since one of Dayton's most talented and most endearing humans, and one of my best friends, passed on from this material world of ours. Gregg was a funny, intelligent, talented and beautiful guy, the presence of I and many others will always miss.

It’s hard to describe the meaningful impact his life, both during it and beyond it on this mortal realm, has had on my own, in a multitude of positive ways. Suffice to say he is a true soul brother, someone whose memory continues to serve as a positive and creative guide.

Recent thoughts of Gregg also reminded me of another great human whom we lost a few years ago, Mick Montgomery, the co-creator and owner of Canal Street Tavern. I thought of Mick because I think one of the last times I saw and talked with him was at a party held at the Yellow Cab Tavern in celebration of him and Canal Street, a profoundly beautiful gathering of much of the Dayton music community that also coincided with the same time frame of the anniversary of Gregg's passing.

Tod Weidner, Jamy Holliday, Mick Montgomery and Sharon Lane during the

celebration of Canal Street Tavern at the Yellow Cab Tavern, Jan 2018

It was a fitting coinciding as Mick was a big friend and supporter of Gregg's, and the presence of Canal Street a major factor in Gregg even being able to make a life for himself in the world of music (and thus my/our ever being afforded the opportunity to become his friend). I can't help but feel overly blessed to have had them both in my life.

That date of January 21st, 2000, the evening of Gregg’s passing, was also by chance the night of a booking for The Mulchmen, who in spite of the situation proved that not only the show must go on, but with Brian Hoeflich sitting in on the drums in the absence of Gregg, turned in what I still regard as perhaps the single most amazingly powerful set of music I ever experienced at Canal Street, which is saying something. It also proved to be the final show the band ever played for nearly two decades.

Included here is a link to video of Gregg’s very last performance before his illness took him down for good (though he did perform one more time with The Mulchmen, fittingly for a cause to help others, as a fundraising gig for the newly established effort of the Tecumseh Land Trust, to save from ‘development’ so much of the beautiful land around Yellow Springs, Ohio).

It is also meaningful to me, as I think it would have been to him, that his last performance was on live television on a special Mulchfest episode of Andy & Pat’s Groovy Cosmic Love Hour, a program I produced that he very much loved, and always enjoyed participating in when he had the chance.

As an addendum, here’s one of Gregg’s live solo performances, featuring many of his stellar songwriting creations. It remains a tragedy to this day that we were not able to get these works properly documented in a studio before his illness and passing in 2000. We had just begun preparations for what was going to be his first solo release project around this time, the next Big Beef Records release, slated for later in 1999. Unfortunately not to be.

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