I had gotten out of the business of writing obituaries here. It got to be too overwhelming to sum up the lives of people I knew, musicians I loved, folks I knew of but never had the chance to meet. It wasn’t a sure thing that I’d never write another, but I didn’t want to. Then a dear friend messaged me on on Saturday with the news that Bruce Burch had died. And so we’re back here.
I hadn’t touched base with Bruce in a while. Not counting pandemic years, it’s been a solid half a decade since we were in the same space at the same time. I didn’t know he was sick. I followed his updates on three of his Facebook profiles; the man had so many connections and friends he regularly surpassed the original friend limits on the site. He’d post about his grandkids that he adored and the songs he’d written. He often talked about former collaborators and how he’d love to work with them again. He’d reach out to us pre-Barbe MBUS kids if we were in the Nashville or Kennesaw area and it’d be a good time.
Bruce and his team left the UGA MBUS program they’d created in 2010, the same year I graduated from it. They moved over to Kennesaw to do the same thing, create opportunities for the young and hungry to meet with those that’d been there before. He was definitely a Nashville guy, through and through. I think he was somewhat mystified by us local lifers at the time but he supported our smaller dreams all the same. His classes were mostly introductions to taste makers, producers, writers, musicians, PR folk, anyone and everyone he could convince to talk to forty juniors and seniors with stars in their eyes. The program placed us in externships to get hands-on work experience, something that was very difficult at the time.
Hell, this site and my early post-college life owe a lot to Bruce. He brought in the editor of Flagpole one day. I pitched her my blog and next thing I know I was writing for the local rag. The first time I met Bertis Downs in person was through that class. The first time I saw a guest lecturer clearly hung-over was through that class (hi Benji Hughes and the tight t-shirt). I met my best friends through the program and we’ve mostly kept in touch even though most of us aren’t making a living in the biz. Bruce had a hand in it all. When it came time to introduce and interview John Bell of Widespread Panic, he messaged me at four in the morning asking if I could be ready in four hours to do it. I answered the call and it went well. But that was our relationship. He knew I could do what was needed and didn’t hesitate to ask.
I’ve reached that weird point in life where more people are fading out of it than entering into it. I wish I would’ve kept in touch better. So there’s one last lesson from the professor.
See you on the other side, boss. Rest well.