audiostrobelight. Eons D. Goodbar. Exit, Emergency. Shadowpact.

NOFX. Skyscraper Stereo. Reel Big Fish. Uh-Huh Baby Yeah!. The Ataris.

2 groups of musicians and musical groups with something in common:

Group 1 were all on one person’s record label. Group 2 were acts that I were turned on to by Group 1’s label’s founder.

His name was Bryan Puckett, founder of Little Heart Records. He passed away on Sunday, at the age of 35.


 

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Picture via the wonderful Tiffany Ackerman-Westmoreland

There are a lot of people, not only in the Louisville area but throughout the music industry in this region, that Puckett touched, helped, guided, and just plain made their days better (note: I don’t know more than 10-15 people who called him “Bryan”; he was almost always “Puckett”).

I first met Puckett in 1997. I had returned to work at Target, after a semester away at Purdue. Puckett was working sales floor at the time; we both thought, when we met, that the other was a new employee (Puckett had been hired on a few months prior). I found out a little later that my sister (hired on a few weeks after I came back) and Puckett were High School classmates.

From roughly  1999 to 2004, we worked together in Target’s Entertainment Department (Music/Movie/Books/Software), running it, in some fashion, during most of that time. I ran it solo from ’99 until about Fall of 2001; from then until March 2003, Puckett took Music, I took Books and Software, and we co-ran Movies; he set up New Releases on Monday Night/Tuesday Mornings for all 4 parts of Entertainment, while I stocked them Tuesday Morning and helped the rep from Levy Books with their sets; and we helped the Electronics Team Lead (our boss) with staffing/scheduling, planograms for both departments, and other odds and ends. While in Entertainment and Electronics, Puckett introduced me to “Pucknation”, a 1-3 page comic, music, and movie review magazine that he had been writing. This eventually morphed into a web site (Pucknation.com; not the same as ‘Puck Nation’.com), with a handful of columnists, reviewers, and guest writers, covering reviews, some pop culture, and random thoughts/games/features. I’ve said it before: that Target team, especially the 1999-2001 part, was one of the best teams I’ve ever worked on, and one of my favorites.
BTW: before either of us went to Entertainment, the 4 areas were over 10% down in YTD sales; by the 4th quarter of 2000, all 4 were +% (Books were somewhere around 20% up; music went from ~ -15% to about 5%); by the end of 2001, Movies were up over 20%, Music was double-digits up, and Books/Software stayed in the +% territory.


After Puckett left Target, he went on to a few other jobs, while I was in and out at Target until 2013. I lost touch with him for a handful of years, except when he would swing by Target to shop. I reunited with him on Facebook, a little over 8 years ago. I found out, after some catching up, that Puckett had actually started a record company a year or 2 before: Little Heart Records. I could be wrong on this, but LHR was mainly a punk/emo label back in 2008. Since then, Little Heart Records has added a little bit of nearly every flavor to its roster.

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The past 4 or 5 years, we mainly kept in touch a lot, mainly via Facebook and the game Words With Friends, although I would run into him every now and then at the movies. The last time that I saw him in person was (I believe) the opening weekend for “X:Men Days of Future Past”, 2 years ago.


On Monday, September 26th, I had the morning off from one job, so I spent the morning at a laundromat. After bringing back lunch from China Inn (a pretty decent restaurant, on the campus of the University of Louisville), I was killing some time while my clothes dried. I logged on to Facebook and saw that more than a few mutual friends of mine and Puckett had his picture up as profile pics, or had some kind of “I miss you”, “I’m in shock” status up.

That’s when I asked the aforementioned Tiffany: Puckett had had a stroke Sunday night. He suffered from Juvenile Diabetes and kidney issues for as long as I knew him; he eventually reached Stage 5 Kidney Failure a little bit ago but was on a waiting list for a new one. He finally succumb to those ailments, as well as a heart issue that I had totally forgot he had.


There are better writers and people with more knowledge that could tell you just how much Bryan Puckett meant to the Louisville Music scene. The folks at LEO Weekly, for example, wrote a pretty amazing article about Puckett:

Puckett Tribute

Also, if you want to check out Little Heart Records, including their roster, check out their page.

On Saturday, October 8th, at 7 PM, there will be a memorial for Puckett, held at The Cure Lounge (here’s a review by Insider Louisville) (and here are directions and a map) for Puckett. It’s a free event; donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation will be accepted at that time (if you can, please donate in Puckett’s name). If you knew Puckett, enjoyed the music of the bands on LHR, come by on Saturday; say a few words, if you are so inclined, hug a grieving friend or 2, and remember the life of Bryan Puckett.

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Last Monday and Tuesday’s shock and tremendous grief have muted somewhat this week but I absolutely am not looking forward to next Saturday evening. There are some really good friends of Puckett that I haven’t seen in months/years; a hug for/from them might last for minutes and end up with mutually tear-soaked shoulders for all of us. Thankfully, I have some soft, absorbent hoodies or polo shirts on standby. 😉 (I need a little humor today)
From more people than you may realize:

Rest In Piece, Puckett.

We will see you on The Other Side.