Apr 222010

Shows at Green Lantern and the Hive

By Danny Mayer

In a couple of weeks, Lexington will lose a vital component of its peace and justice community when Jerry Moody relocates north to Canada.

Moody, a social activist and rabble-rouser since his high school days in Ohio during the late Sixties, has been a tireless campaigner, organizer and contributor to a number of social justice causes since his arrival in Lexington two decades ago. He’s worked for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth fighting against big business coal practices and nefarious anti-felon voting laws; he helped start the now-defunct New Morning World Coffee House on Euclid Ave to provide a space for activists to gather to protest the first Iraq War, and has continued to organize protests against the most recent wars in the Middle East; he’s been active in the Central Kentucky Council for Peace; he’s worked to create a free university for the community; he’s advocated for Hispanic outreach groups, re-introduced CentrePointe to live guerilla theatre, and campaigned for local and national politicians. And he’s done all this while playing drums for peace and guitar for fun.

I first met Jerry a couple years ago at Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Cooper campus, located on the ass-end of UK’s campus. Jerry was working a part-time gig through Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, getting students and staff registered to vote in the 2008 elections. For the most part, it was a thankless and, I imagine, a poorly paid job—as are most underfunded and overworked community activist jobs—but you could never tell it from Jerry. At the table day after day, his face showed the same smile and energized optimism that I’ve now grown accustomed to seeing from him. I’m probably not alone in noting that his was a face I quickly came to seek out, to say ‘hi’ to.

When we started this paper about a year ago, Jerry simply offered “to help.” And help he did. He hustled some of our first ads, distributed the paper to people that I would have never thought would be interested in it, and most importantly, spent a considerable amount of time that summer on my back porch, discussing local, regional and national politics with me over smokes.

At the time, he’d been living homeless for a couple of months, working as little as possible. His Volvo station wagon stayed parked in our back yard, and he stayed in it on some nights, not on others. Jerry claimed that he was going back to his yippie roots, trying to see if he could support himself by writing songs and playing open mics and other low-paying “donation” gigs. I bought it, hook line and sinker—I can say with full admiration that Jerry is above all a dirty yippie—but as with most things there was more to it than that. At some point during his time in Lexington, Jerry devoted his life to two things his yippie background viewed as intertwined: art (particularly music) and political activism. Having no home left him freer to do both and, in a way, also more connected to the disinvested people he worked to empower.

It may have been a chosen homelessness, but it was homelessness nonetheless. Last December, Jerry suffered a stroke while taking a nap in his Volvo. He managed to make it to Third Street Coffee, his home away from Volvo, where our film editor Colleen Glenn bumped into him and took him to the hospital. (Yet another example of the social benefits of low-cost gathering places like Third Street.)

Jerry’s mostly fine now; his drumming has come back and the guitar playing is getting there, too, and I’ve seen him out more, doing things like emceeing documentary viewings of coal country at Al’s Bar. Though I haven’t asked directly, it has not gone unnoticed that he is leaving for a job—a political organizing gig—in Canada, a country that has a system of true universal health care coverage.

But ever the yippie, Jerry’s planned two going away bashes that all of Lexington is invited to attend. The first show, May 4 at the Green Lantern, will be a benefit to help pay the enormous medical bills that were generated through his week stay at UK hospital. In addition to Jerry playing some of his songs that he recently recorded for his self-titled debut album, you can expect some special guests to contribute to the night’s festivities as well. Already Ford Theater Reunion and Contra-Punctus have confirmed their attendance; Michael Johnathon of Woodsongs fame will also make a rare bar-scene appearance. Cover for the fundraiser/farewell show is $10.

Four days later on May 8, Jerry will be playing his farewell show at the Hive, a salon and art space located on Deweese Street. Contra-Punctus will also be joining Jerry. This show will be all-ages, free of charge and begin around 7:00 PM.

So come on out next week and send your fond non-Facebook farewells to that dirty yippie and loveable rabble-rouser, Jerry Moody. It’s Lexington’s loss and Canada’s gain, but hell, that shouldn’t stop us all from having a good party.

Jerry’s new CD, Moody, is available for purchase at Third Street Coffee. The CD comes with a booklet of poems and thoughts also titled Moody: Words. The Green Lantern is located at 497 W. Third Street.  The Hive is located at 156 Deweese Street.

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