I don’t remember meeting Scott; we’ve been friends for so long that he has always just been there. I can remember birthday parties and Saturday afternoons, hours of playing with X-men action figures and G.I. Joes. Scott and I would fence with Nerf swords for hours pretending to be different characters. Scott and his family welcomed me into their home and their lives from a very young age. Capri Suns and a large pizza just for me were almost always on hand. A constant loop of Beatles music was the soundtrack of our childhood, a phenomenon that never ceased to first amaze, then annoy, then drive me crazy.
At school Scott and I often found ourselves together, though he often avoided the more rough and tumble schoolyard games that I enjoyed. He was a happy child and wanted nothing more than to share that, though he was extremely shy. I remember being amazed at that age that someone so talented could be that awkward and self-conscious. Watching and helping him blossom into such a charismatic person as he grew up was truly amazing. (In case you weren’t aware, he was kind of a big deal) His goofy smile could light up the darkest corners and his laugh was full and genuine. It was always affirming to a joker like me.
We started playing music together in Jr High, and while I was always a mediocre musician, Scott was patient and encouraging. He loved music although performing for a crowd was not something that came easily or naturally to him when he was younger. I think part of what drew us together was the different strengths we had and a desire to learn from one another. He pushed me as a musician and I pushed him as a performer. His ability at that age came through persistence and determination. That drive was something he had in every aspect of his life. What appeared to the observer as effortless, I know from watching him practice doggedly for hours, came with exhausting cost.
Even when the Cocobeanos decided to replace me, we didn’t let it affect our friendship and was always willing to fill in whenever they needed. We both continued in music jumping at any chance to play together until we formed Shoebox, a band that would define our lives together for the next few years. That is the time when we ceased to be friends and became truly family.
It started with a frantic phone call on a Friday night to fulfill a contract on Sunday and became a regular gig with a line-up that varied but settled on Scott, Bryan, Devon, and I. Those days were some of the happiest of all our lives. While the bulk of the musical talent weight fell on Scott, he was always excited to get us on stage and performing. More than he wanted the spotlight for himself, he wanted others to enjoy it.
He was patient with each of us. He was always pushing us to be better because he knew that we loved the music as much as he did but didn’t have the years of experience and practice he had. We played church services and local festivals and revivals, some for dozens some for hundreds and one very hot day where we played for literally 6 people in Carey, Oh. It didn’t matter, we played to play. Scott told me years after we had disbanded that of all the people he played with over the years, Shoebox felt most like a Band.
We did everything together. Drove to gigs in the Phantom all singing at the top of our lungs. We got together to practice just to end up in his pool or just laying in the yard. We pieced together two studio albums and stumbled upon ourselves singing on local radio stations more than once. And all the while he would just smile and say “Soon we’ll be playing stadiums”. It was always “we” and not “I”. He could have chosen better musicians, but not better friends.
I will always remember that trade-off that he never considered a sacrifice. I remember playing with the ‘Beanos’ at the Pump around this time. We were approached by another musician, who was either too drunk to make the connection between the two of us or the two bands or was just unaware. He put his arm around both of us and proceeded to tell me about Scott as if I had never met him, how great a musician and performer he was with the ‘Beanos’, and Scott (to his credit) was very gracious and humble. He then turned to Scott and began to sing my praises as the front man of a “Christian band called Shoebox that he must check out as soon as he could” and Scott’s face just lit up. It was as if he was happier to see me have that moment of “fame” than any compliment that could be paid to himself. That was Scott in a nutshell. He would set himself on fire if his glow could lend light to the stage for someone else to shine.
I had the good fortune to spend a weekend with Scott in the weeks preceding his death and we laughed and reminisced about those days. We shared beers and laughs and solemn moments of heartache as we were both recently single. We ended the night at an Irish pub where I taught him the drinking songs and we pounded our fists and our drinks on the table. We even talked about getting the band back together. Not to grab for glory, but to play with a group that just made us feel complete. We both felt like such an essential part of each other’s lives, it seemed that nothing ever really happened to us until we could tell the other. I still find myself reaching for my phone to tell him about my day. Instead I tell my heart, I try to fill the space he left there.