John Rivera rest in power

Okay jusr one piece of housekeeping to get past first, the Prayer For Cleansing LP went up for preorder about three weeks ago and sold out completely in minutes. No current plans to repress, I sold 100% of my copies, and I do not know what stores got them from me. I appreciate everyone’s excitement as I am flipping out at the record and the response.

Getting to the main topic but let’s start with backstory. I grew up in Winston-Salem which is a pretty plain and easy town in North Carolina. As I’m nearing 40 that sounds nice but at sixteen that is stressful because you watch Suburbia, and Hackers, and skate videos and CKY and you’re a nice quiet kid but you’re smart and you want more out of it all than working a job and going to high school. So you skate. And through skating you find music. In fact I found a show flier for Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Cave In, and Azazel on the wall at Surf Report and I decided to go. At this point of my life my parents are strict but oddly let me drive on my graduated license to this with the notion of if I get pulled that’s on me.

The show clearly lit a spark. I now had three main focuses in my life, skateboarding, technology, and music. The show was at 533 Uprisings, run by Paul from Azazel and Dave from Codeseven. If you’re familiar with Winston-Salem, there was a similar DIY venue run by Dave called Pablo’s. So at this time I knew and loved Dillinger Escape Plan above all because Under The Running Board came out and you know to this day its an insane record. I guess any of this is odd considering my love for hardcore punk and blastbeats, punk came first and blastbeats came later. Metalcore, punk (some cool stuff like Conflict but some mediocre stuff too at this age), and a light smattering of industrial powered me back then and seeing how it all worked and seeing how you could run a venue just for us really warped my thoughts of what was possible and opened my mind to bigger possibilities.

Youre wwondering why I’m going on this nostalgia trip now, well it all will come full circle but before we get there I started a band with my friends called The Dead Body Men. We played heart felt political punk for whatever that could mean for a 16-18 year old. Our first show was at The Somewhere Else Tavern and I first officially met John that night. I honestly sort of forget to pinpoint it to that night but photos prove we were there talking in the parking lot. John was somewhat of an enigma to me. I was new to this scene of people and John might not have been the king of it but he was the prince or something of that nature, existing so easily amongst these people. I would see him bellied up to the coffee shop bar at The Missing Link which was next to venue on Trade Street and he’d be in an engaging conversation with Frank the owner and some folks more my age who were wasting time to go to the show.

So those were the early years of knowing John as an acquaintance. He then was living in Greensboro with Andy and some other folks sort of living this anarchist life after I turned 18, did the college thing all the way through and then was spit out on the other side working and going to shows. This was more my reintroduction to John where we started to piece together a lot of similarities. I’d say let’s fast forward a bit more time to maybe 2010 and John and I are talking often. Usually on AIM but maybe at that point on FB chat. We would nerd out about what computer projects we were working on or we would talk about bands from the old days or we were both running labels so we might talk over that. It would be some combination of nerd and music items and I honestly didn’t have anyone else I could connect with so closely on those subjects so we talked a ton and got close. It’d be amazing to see him in person and hang out but I think our friendship really shined as a nerdy culmination of spitballing things that were possible.

John came up with Punks On Paper and was really exited to talk about how he was hand coding it all. I offered him help but it was really an outlet for him so about all I did was contribute some fliers for Raleigh shows to fill in some gaps, as well as some old Winston show fliers I had amassed and scanned.

John some breathing issues a few years ago and scared the crap out of all of us who really care about him, probably most of all Caroline his partner. He then had a stroke and he had surgery that was supposed to really fix the root cause of these in his brain. Unfortunately John passed away from his health conditions.

My interactions with John as someone who grew up in the same scene and he liked to talk to and respected were no different than his interactions with a lot of other people – he was kind and engaging to everyone in the music scene and beyond. At his memorial show I met a few people who had interacted with John as a stranger to him and he treated them with kindness that struck them as special and notable.

So fast forward to some months ago and I was reached out to by Caroline to plan something special in John’s name. Me, Grant from Bitter Melody Records (and John’s best friend), Dave from Codeseven, and Paul from Azazel formed the show planning committee. I would like to say I was more the moral support, sound board, direction pusher and the rest of these great folks made the show happen. It was exciting early on as Caroline would ask some bands that had not played since John and I were kids and they were confirming to play the show in his honor.

I don’t want to make this overly long of a narrative as I’m typing it on my phone into WordPress after mightnight on Christmas day. Fast forward to the shows and Sunday wasn’t just a big nostalgia trip but it was a gathering of old friends and seeing these bands again was a very real and modern exciting experience that wasn’t fully trapped in that old 533 Trade Street room. I’ve been bothering everyone by reposting a lot on social media from the show but my brain has be a bit locked on that show and in the past. The one thing I kept thinking and everyone kept saying is that John would have really loved to have been at that show. I couldn’t decide if he’d be obcessively filming the show for posterity or if he’d be doing flips over the barricade into the crowd but I’d know he’d be the very first person I’d have messaged the next morning to nerd out about our nights together with.

John was a supporter of the scene and asked for very little back. I’m not candy coating this like we do when someone dies, everything so far is accurate as I know it. He deserved two bands who I never thought would ever play again to play in his honor. He deserved for Codeseven to play the album he loved start to stop. I just would take all the amazement of that show back to have my buddy around to talk about benign stuff like databases and Rapsberry Pi projects back. I know Caroline misses him in similar but different ways and I know Penny has a father sized hole in her heart and I know they know how special he was to a lot of people.

In the end a lot of people had a fun time seeing some fabled bands they saw or didn’t see back in the day in the town where I grew up, blocks from our old 533 stomping grounds. John Rivera was a name and image around the show that everyone knew they were there for but some might not have known him or cared. If you read this far then you may have felt a bit of what made him special and that really was the main point of me spilling this out there on Christmas day as he’d have been on of the first people to get a “Merry XVXmas” text from me this morning and depending on my timeframe I might swing through Greensboro to see him before heading back into Raleigh.

In some other metaverse or some other scene there’s a quiet guy working his ass off on things he finds important for his own obcessive love of it and not for the recognition. If you are that person or know that person then you know John Rivera. North Carolina lost one important guy and a blog post won’t really explain why he was loved but his memory will be echoed in all that he did.



This entry was written by Will , posted on Monday December 26 2022at 01:12 am , filed under News . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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