Shortly before Jeff Conner’s untimely death last November, the local musician and engineer had been purchasing musical instruments and equipment with the intention of writing and recording original music again after a short hiatus. For close to three decades, Conner was an active presence in the local music scene as a songwriter, front man, guitarist, and bassist with original bands ranging from hard rock (JC 3, Chakras) to more pop-oriented fare (SPIFF, Odd Man Out, Gravy 8). Conner was an affable presence, often out in clubs as much in support of his friends’ shows as tending to his own busy gig calendar, and he even had a hand in organizing a number of big musical benefits and tributes over the years.
According to friend and former bandmate, Mark Brasington, one of Conner’s more unique purchases prior to his passing included a mandolin. Having never played mandolin before, Brasington explains that Conner left him a voice message with a new song idea he had written on the instrument shortly after picking it up. When he passed, Brasington floated the idea with Conner’s former bandmates and friends – most who only had their friendship with Conner in common – to finish writing the song together using the original phone demo and lyrics Conner had recently posted on social media. Over the course of six months, Conner’s song, “I Fly Inside,” was finalized and recording commenced at multiple studios involving 10 former bandmates, friends, and supporters.
"Jeff left us a real gift with his song,” Brasington notes. “To be able to connect with so many of his musician friends and to create again with Jeff has been a blessing. That everyone approached the song through Jeff's eyes is a real testament to their love for him.”
Brasington assembled the various rhythm, instrument and vocal tracks in his home studio, and along with Susan Vitello, a video artist with deep ties to the local music scene, helped capture several of the song’s contributors recording and performing the song for a music video that will debut in August as part of a special memorial tribute to Conner.
The show on Sunday, August 6, 2023 will feature short musical sets from some of Conner’s bandmates from SPIFF and Chakras, followed by the live musical and video debut of Conner’s final composition. The event also includes a silent auction featuring musical instruments, studio recording gear, and live sound equipment owned by Conner, the proceeds of which will benefit nonprofits that his family and friends feel are aligned with his life-long commitment to music. The music video will be available after the event on VIMEO and other channels following the debut.
Vitello notes, “I’m still not sure how (Jeff) would feel about all of this, but I’m certain he’d be touched to see how many people showed up for this last opportunity to collaborate with him. ”
The Memorial tribute for Conner on August 6, 2023 runs from 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM at Rick's Tavern & Grille (5955 Boymel Dr. Fairfield, OH 45014).