New Heathens

Chris Feinstein

When I finally had my first "record" in my hand, "Heathens Like Me," way back in '06, I took hard copies with me to the 11th Street Bar. I wanted to show some of my heroes who hung out there what I'd done.

I gave a copy to Chris Feinstein. He was playing bass with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals by then. I'd see him watching himself on TV (it was the habit of the Cardinals [though not usually Ryan] to come to the 11th Street Bar to watch the latenight broadcast of their performances on shows like Letterman, which taped in the afternoon).

I gave Chris a copy of the record I'd made, which I'd put so much of my heart, soul, time, hopes, dreams and money into.

"It's a special feeling, right?" he said. "You'll never forget it. Your first record. I remember mine. Congratulations, I'm really happy for you."

What a shot of confidence that was. Mercy, the esteem I held Chris in after that. A guy who'd made it, a guy who would sit and talk to lowly me after all he'd done. Stuff I only wished I could.

Chris and I were acquaintances before that, but after that moment I considered him beatific. My friend. He was talented as all hell. An amazing musician. And to think he was also one of the guys I loved most to be around. Sweet. Generous. Gregarious. Wonderful to be near. We talked about his cat. His acoustic guitar. His music. The music we both loved.

Oh those many nights I was lucky enough to share with him, as the Guinness pints poured. One of my favorite stories he ever told me was about doing a recording session down south in the same studio as Wayne Perkins, who played guitar on the Stones 1976 record "Black and Blue."

Chris, you see, was as big a Rolling Stones fan as you would ever meet. Listen to this story he told me.

"I heard that Wayne Perkins was in the next room," he said. "And Black and Blue is one of my favorite Stones albums. So I said, 'I have to meet this guy.' He came out into the kitchen area to pour himself a cup of coffee and I started talking to him about the Black and Blue sessions. He said he went to Munich, Germany to find an empty studio, with mountains of drugs piled around, and only instrumental tracks. As he walked in the studio Mick Jagger walked out. Wayne asked, 'Mick, how will I know where to play on the tracks?' Mick said, 'Just listen to them, and imagine where I won't be singing, and play there.' The results were, 'Hot Stuff,' 'Hand of Fate' and 'Memory Motel.'"

I spent many a long hour with Chris at the 11th Street Bar. I also watched him play many times on stages from the Beacon Theater to Town Hall to the Bowery Ballroom to weird, tiny coffee shops in Soho.

He was a dear friend of my dear friend, Kori Burkholder.

You can see us all in that picture at the top, taken outside the 11th Street Bar a couple years ago. Clockwise from the top left it's Mo Goldner, from Spanking Charlene, Chip Robinson, Kori Burkholder, Butch Phelps (New Heathens, Buck Ups), Chris Feinstein, with his head in Kori's lap, and me.

I just heard the news at the 11th Street Bar.

Fuck Chris. Fuck. Why?

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  1. wonderful memories… thanks for sharing…

  2. If you would like to make a donation to help his mother pay for funeral expenses, please send a paypal donation to The memorial service will be held in Nashville, TN. For more details, please send an email.

  3. From Butch (via Facebook)

    incidentally, in the photo Chris's head is on my knee. he an i had many long, late night talks. i remember i'm the one who pulled him into the shot at the last minute. i also asked for and purchased the picture for 5 bucks from that old black photographer guy, then i gave it to Chip…

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