Jay Sebastian, forever in our hearts. May 21, 1953 - March 29, 20204


For Jay

I don’t know how many times I told him I was proud of him
I couldn’t have said it enough
there was too much to say
and I wasn’t sure he wanted to hear it
        but I know
        he knew
        that I knew
I don’t know how many times he paid me a compliment
how often I waved them off
returning them to him
but each one warmed my bones
        and I know
        he knew
        that I knew
I don't know if we'd had more time
what, if anything, we would have done differently
         because in our hearts
         you know?
         I really do know
         that he knew
         and I did too


My husband Robin Bienemann and Jay Sebastian were Itzi Rothowski and Red Klatz of the musical duo Twang Bang.

Twang Bang and their producer David Blum took Chicago audiences by storm with legendary live shows. You'd be as likely to find them at one of the iconic Chicago clubs like The Hideout or The Metro as you would be to see them street performing, or playing before 'Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" at Neo Futurists, or comedy clubs.

They loved to play where you'd least expect it. With outrageous guitar, inventive drumming and tight harmonies, they were often mistaken for a multi-piece band rather than a duo. Here's one of my favorite performances from "Wild Chicago," introduced by Will Clinger, who has since become a dear friend.

They expanded their empire to Japan, earning a place on the medalist dias at the Japan Open song contest (think America's Got Talent, 25 years earlier), and in later years expanded the band roster to include the wonderful multi-instrumentalist Casey Stockton on bass as Jingles. When Jay was sidelined by a wrist injury, they heeded their respective callings and began to explore other artistic endeavors.

And while Jay’s life as an artist expanded to encompass theatre projects like 'Time in a Teacup, ' premiering at Rhinofest, the Bridgeport Pasty eco-friendly foodtruck with his wife Carrie Clark and so much more, he always made time to collaborate musically with Robin and me on songs like Never Rhyme Head with DeadSample the Dog and What will Kill You First for the Haiku Milieu concert series.

One week to the day he passed, he was planning a medically-focused podcast. His idea was to get Tom Hanks to host it, and we are pretty sure that Tom Hanks, like the rest of us, would have been powerless to resist Jay’s persistent enthusiasm.

Jay Sebastian was an inspiring example of a life well lived, and he will be dearly missed.


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