[I originally started this entry by detailing the coverage of this case, which has spread about the blogosphere and crime "enthusiasts" alike the last two days, but I lost a fair bit of work and had to restart...]
Here is the original Richmond Times Dispatch story from yesterday. The mean facts are that Bryan Harvey, 49, his wife Kathryn, 39, and his daughters Stella (9) and Ruby (4) were all bound and killed and their house in South Richmond set afire on New Year's Day. If you follow the sidebar trail from today's story on the evening vigil for the Harveys, you can find a string of stories on how active and important they were to the Richmond community, and how many people seemed to know and love them.
But rather than reiterate those stories as I originally intended, I will tell you why I'm mentioning this sad but regional story (that's not even the region where I live anymore). I lived in Richmond for 10 years during the 90s, and while I was not friends with the Harveys, I did know Bryan to an extent and was very familiar with his work. My son and his daughter are the same age, and were slated to attend the same school in the same class had we not moved the prior spring. My wife knew Kathryn in about the same fashion, through her store World of Mirth and as someone of mutual friends. We had other friends who knew them well, who had played with Bryan or worked with Kathryn, or who live just two blocks from the home in which they were slain, coming home on New Year's to find their neighborhood taped off. So we were a part of the wide web of people whose lives had been favorably touched by the Harveys, and tonight Mrs. Joe and I feel a real sense of personal loss despite our mostly tangential acquaintance with them.
As you would discover if you read the sidebar articles at the T-D, they were simply sweet people, and that would make their murders tragic enough. But their presence left singularly tangible, wonderful legacies that one can so rarely qualify. Bryan's band House of Freaks (with percussionist Johnny Hott) was my favorite Richmond band ever and among the best live shows I've seen in my lifetime. I own nearly everything they put out, including some vinyl. I played them and pimped them in my various radio gigs in Williamsburg and Richmond, and played them for friends to convert them.
As a Yankee transplant, Harvey's eminently Southern lyrics were a fascination to me, and they rang true (as this Southerner accords in his review of the HoF catalog). Some called it the New South Gothic, a rock style steeped in Southern cultural mythology that sometimes mocked the myths, sometimes lionized and sought comfort in them. I sympathized with that conflict of interest between modern sensibility, and the peaceful traditions that supported the imperfect ways of the past. There was also a tribal, almost Native American element to much of the earlier music, and as a percussionist I couldn't help but be drawn to a two-piece, guitar and drums band. They always made so much more sound than larger outfits, as if guided by the hand of Phil Spector. But it was Bryan's lyrical tapestry that drew me back again and again. With a hopeful modesty that has been proven unnecessary, he eulogized himself on Cakewalk with the song "Remember Me Well":
When I lay down my head
bound for heaven or hell
after all's said and done
please remember me well
You can dance on my grave
you can ring out the bells
you can drink to my health
but remember me well
Never fear, Bryan and Kathryn.
Update 1/4, 230p--
Welcome to those of you from sites where my sad nostalgia has been linked. I'm flattered that people from different sources were moved enough by my remembrances to cite them in their own writing. In turn, if you haven't come from one of those sites, let me direct you to them:
Blue Merle offers a rundown on who is following the story around the blogosphere, and shares the hunger for information and answers that many of us seem to be harboring.
Buttermilk and Molasses' John Sarvay (someone who I'm pretty sure I've met before, and who was heavily involved in the indie publishing scene while I lived there) notes the curious attachment to the Harveys among people who only vaguely knew them, such as myself.
Aliza Sherman knew Bryan perhaps better than many of us, given her admission of a near-romance that they shared long ago, and offers some touching thoughts about his gentle nature. She also has a good set of links to news and blog articles about the murders.
F.T. Rea's SLANTblog also carries us back to the 80's, when Grace Street's music scene was king, and hints at Bryan's trepidations about doing what The Man wanted in order to become famous. He also reports on the vigil held last night at the Unitarian Church.
Steve Huff's Dark Side speculates at length on possible motives and implications, but cautions against getting carried away with what you read as 'truth' on the Net.
Don Harrison, former Catharsis writer (another of the indie publishing people, and someone who reviewed my old Richmond band Hassan Chop!) shares his remembrances of Bryan that go way back, and the sycophantic fandom it seems many of us had for him and House of Freaks--that we all tried to hide so we could have a normal, non-embarassing conversation with him.
Finally, if you knew the Harveys a lot, a little, or even not at all, there is a page up to memorialize the family and update people on the events to come celebrating their lives.