Laura Kennedy memorial planned for this Saturday at Nick and Eddie
It was with sad relief that the friends and family received the news of the passing of Laura Kennedy early this week. At 54, the mother, sister, animal lover, friend to many, and all-around music enthusiast had been struggling with Hepatitus C for many years, most recently after receiving a liver transplant in 2008. Laura had documented her progress and struggle online on her blog, Transplanted.
Friends and fans have posted their wishes and tributes all week long, on both music blogs and on Laura's Facebook page. She was most well known around the world as the original bass player for Bush Tetras, commonly cited as one of the more influential of the New York '80s "no-wave" scene. Finally, it was announced today that a memorial has been planned for this Saturday at Nick and Eddie at 11 a.m.
I first met Laura through Vickie, whom she'd moved to the Twin Cities with, and we all immediately connected through our mutual love for dub music. Many hours were spent with those two and their massive record collections or in the clubs skanking to the heavy bass sound of those reggae grooves. Naturally, it was that sound of the bass that no doubt was a heavy influence on Laura's playing.
Having not played music for a long time, I eventually convinced Laura to join me one night for a set opening for Mark Mallman at the Turf Club. We called ourselves "The Sandpeople" and I brought only a pair of turntables and she brought her bass. Mixing in some sound effects records and some old school dub plates, at one point I asked Laura to maybe work in some "Pastorius kind of shit," to which she rolled her eyes at me. Pushing her glasses up to her nose, she begrudgingly obliged.
Working the neck of her bass, she whipped up a firestorn of notes to a point where her bass cabinet started to rattle the stage, causing the tone arms on my turntables to bounce around from the vibrations and create an insane noise and rhythm. Who needs a drum set when you got Laura Kennedy in your band?
After about 20 minutes we finished up, glanced at one another, and smiled. Needless to say, Mark never asked us to play with him again. We never attempted anything together, either. It had seemed our work was done.
Last time I saw Laura she was bouncing around the room at her benefit show at Nick and Eddie in 2009. With the Bush Tetras reuniting for Laura and Dave Thomas from Pere Ubu fronting the Suicide Commandos, there was a high level of punk bliss and energy in the room. With a hospital mask on, Laura told me she had doctor's orders she wasn't supposed to be around everyone but couldn't help herself as the outpouring of love was too much to resist.
The next day I stopped by her place and she was invigorated. Shuffling around her apartment she was answering emails, voicemails, and signing posters from the benefit to send out to people who'd chipped in for her cause. She had renewed energy and faith in people who she knew she could always count on.
The last couple years would take a toll on Laura, and though she'd gotten a transplant, further complications with the disease would ultimately overcome her new liver and her condition further deteriorated.
There really aren't too many people and personalities like Laura Kennedy and she will be truly be missed by many.
Laura is survived by her daughter, Zoe, and her three sisters, Betsy, Suzanne, and Margaret.
A memorial for Laura Kennedy will take place at Nick and Eddie this Saturday morning, November 19, from 11 a.m. to noon. Nick and Eddie will also be opening the kitchen early for lunch service after the memorial. Nick and Eddie is at 1612 Harmon Place, Minneapolis 55403.