January Queen City Sounds By Tom Murphy

David Mead at Denver’s Deer Pile April 26, 2015 | Photo by Tom Murphy

Queen City Sounds
By Tom Murphy
Published Issue 085, January 2021

When my friend David Mead passed away from his long struggle with leukemia on December 2, 2020, it brought into intense focus not just the fragility of life but also the way the global pandemic has only highlighted the shortcomings of our society and culture. David was a talented artist whose passion for his creative endeavors and his openness as a human made him an impactful figure in the lives of people he knew and in the local creative community. 

I first saw him perform with the experimental grindcore outfit Crack Magick at Blast-O-Mat, the DIY space now known as Seventh Circle Music Collective. Then a few years later as a woodwind player in the free jazz group Aenka followed by his solo shows, as a member of improvisational avant-garde project Animal / object and performing with industrial post-punk band Echo Beds. He was a kind, thoughtful and insightful person who seemed to neither waste or mince words. 

Echo Beds & David Mead at Rhinoceropolis August 26, 2012 | Photo by Tom Murphy

But like many creative people he didn’t fit into the economic mode of late capitalism and its hostility to humanity itself, and anything that doesn’t fit in with a narrow conception of one’s utility to the economy in the abstract as if it matters outside the needs of people. Had he not struggled so much to make a living and had access to a health care system that serves all, he might have lived longer and certainly more productively. 

As the fallout from the pandemic — amplified by the perverse and sadistic level of neglect in addressing the socioeconomic effects of the plague on the part of the president and his political party and their lack of positive action and mitigating the economic effects — has crushed small business, the live music industry, art galleries and the like, the effect has also multiplied for the working class and directly the creative community which has always had a fairly tenuous existence. Anyone with a sense of reality knows the stock market is no indicator of the economic health of most of us, and the effects of the pandemic on the economy will press down on us for decades to come with the stock market bubble eventually bursting when the economic lives of most people crumbles. 

In the years immediately ahead we have an opportunity to push for a more economically equal society so that those not rich don’t have to live with constant uncertainty. Certainly the modern Republican Party has been an utter disaster with only austerity policies for all but the wealthy. And the current incarnation of the Democratic Party, with a few notable exceptions, is in lockstep with a neoliberal order that funnels the bulk of society’s wealth to a minuscule pool of economic entities. Clearly destructive and unsustainable, the direct human impact is shortened lives and a society in which none thrive in a culture that is perilously and increasingly less dynamic and vital. All our resources and energy are being channeled into the wealth of fewer and fewer with the result of an ambient despair and hopelessness felt to varying degrees by everyone. The health impacts alone are undeniable but the cost to our culture and humanity has been incalculable. 

We must counteract these with bold, new ideas and ways of being that stand in stark contrast to what we have come to accept as a new norm while we settle for modes of being and living that erode rather than fortify our lives. It’s too late for my friend David Mead and far too many people we all know who would have benefited from a more equal economic system and a single payer healthcare system, but we owe it to ourselves to work to create a world we want that benefits all rather than the current era of a new feudalism. A more peaceful, prosperous and healthy world awaits if we have the will to explore ideas old and new that will make breaking the current order possible, and one of the boons of that journey will be an era of great creative work as well.

Aenka & David Mead at Dazzle April 29, 2010 | Photo by Tom Murphy


RIP, David Mead, you are missed and I hope the world ahead is worthy of your legacy. 

For more see queencitysoundsandart.wordpress.com

Tom Murphy is a Denver-based music writer and science fiction/fantasy/horror creator. He is also a musician, historian and itinerant filmmaker.