Jack Elka‘s “Life Jam” with Kenny Crawley
Drummer extraordinaire, Kenny Crawley passed away yesterday. Jack and Kenny performed on and off together for over 30 years with The Billy Rice Band, Jake the Snake, jammed at the Clam Factory, Showboat, House Parties, Jams, and so many more and they became great friends. Here are some of Jack’s reflections-
Where do I start?
In the early 1990’s I regularly played on the Seafood Shack’s “Showboat” in Cortez with a drummer named “Crazy Lou Ferkavitch” (another fabulous drummer) Louie could not make the gig on day and sent Kenny. We hit it off immediately. Always making fun. We would play for 20 minutes and take an hour break. On our breaks we would go up into the wheelhouse and harass Captain “Boozer”…yes that was his name. One day on our break Boozer said that he had to go to the bathroom “real bad” and asked Kenny and I if we could take the wheel. “Just steer the boat towards the channel marker.” We said OK. Kenny asked me do we steer it to the left or right of the marker? I said I think we go right? He said no I think we go left. We went back and forth until the Showboat came to a screeching halt and went aground. Boozer came running up the stairs screaming at us and it took him a half an hour to get the boat out of the mud. It was Kenny’s fault. I knew we should have gone to the left.
Another Kenny story. “The heart attack song” We played Glen Miller’s “In the mood” a fast up-tempo song for the dancers. They loved it. There was this one guy who was showing off on how fast he could dance. I said to Kenny “faster!!!” We sped it up. I said “faster!!!!!!! Kenny laughed and we sped it up until the guy collapsed on the dance floor. We thought he had a heart attack.
In 1996 Kenny and I went to England together. I met his family, friends and brother Harry. Everyone was so nice. Harry does a Dean Martin tribute show. We saw him perform at a local club. We had a great time. We went on to London where Kenny took me to all of the landmarks and to some recording studios where he recorded. He introduced me to all of the musicians. They all loved him and respected him.
Bands come and go along with the musicians in them . We played together in a few more incarnations through the years but never lost touch. We would call each other every couple of months to check in. We called each other “F**K Head. That was the default greeting. I cannot take his phone number out of my phone. I will miss him badly.
Cheers, Jack Elka
Kenny’s Memorial will be held Saturday, February 6, 2021 at Mansion Memorial Park, 1400 36th Ave. East, Ellenton, FL. The time will be posted on Kenny’s Facebook page when it is finalized.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with the memorial expenses:
Photo from Jack Elka