We received some very sad news this past week about the death of Chris Lukaszewski, a very good and old friend of the band. He was a gentle and empathetic soul of which there are far too few these days.
Before there were any “official” llamas, there was Chris. Over the past fifteen years he appeared at many of our gigs around Southern Ontario and he always brought his camera and prints of the photos that he had taken at the previous gig. It wasn’t unusual for Chris to show up at a gig bearing gifts: snow-globes with pictures of each of us (that he had taken) encased inside; homemade Christmas ornaments; and one of his most imaginative gifts was a Scrabble board on which he glued all of the tiles, like it was a completed game, and every word was from one of our song titles. All of these gifts and more have been proudly displayed in our studio for the last ten years. Chris loved words. He once gave me a beautifully written children’s book, Black Sky River. The book centers on a childhood memory of watching the annual bird migration and of the town’s attempt to kill off the birds because they were deemed a nuisance, too noisy, too messy. Between each page he had inserted small slips of paper, and on each piece of paper he had typed a line from Small Swift Birds: the song, the narrative and the images danced along, hand-in-hand as you turned the pages. He told me his favourite line from the book was, “I miss the mystery, the wondering of things without beginnings, without end.” I can’t remember if I ever had the chance or took the time to properly thank him for his gift and to tell him how truly beautiful and inspiring I thought it was. But the greatest gift that Chris gave to us was his attention to our music. He listened and it, in turn, inspired him to create and, if you’re a musician, you really can’t ask for a better gift than that. He bought a ticket for this week’s Toronto show; we will be thinking of him as we play. He will be missed.