Jason Kownslar, Photo: Facebook
After twenty-plus years in and out of the music world, I’ve tried to get to know pretty much everyone I can who’s involved. That means that every promoter, every agent, and every band I could shake hands with, I have. But, if you’re at as many shows as I am, you tend to get bored with the same ol’ same ol’. I’ll be honest when I say that there are plenty of touring acts that aren’t as engaging as most of the Houston acts I see. And if you have the gift of gab that I do, then you’re likely to chat with everyone that works at the venues. Back when Pegstar booked Fitzgerald’s they ran a tight ship with security, and I got to know the bulk of those security guards who worked the shows. Without proper security, shows would be a huge pain in the ass, and Kownslar was one of the best security guards I’ve seen in a long time. I say “was” because after broken vertebrae from a motorcycle accident, Kownslar has been wheelchair bound since last year. On Sunday, April 24th, you can come out and support Kownslar’s road to recovery with an all-day benefit and BBQ show at Raven Tower. I sat down with the stubborn and determined Kownslar to ask him to explain all he’s gone through.
FPH: You described this ordeal like “a child re-learning things.” Can you please explain that?
JASON KOWNSLAR: More accurately, my injury left me in an infant like state. What I mean by this is that when we are babies we don’t have the necessary neural formations to move and behave as we do by the time we reach adulthood. Patients with SCI [spinal cord injury] in essence no longer have the ability to send messages from the brain down the spinal cord, out through the peripheral nerves and to the trunk or extremities we are trying to control. The “line of communication” has been interrupted. It takes time and intense effort to rewire the pathways around the point of injury as the nerves grow to reconnect with one another if they will reconnect at all.
FPH: You have always been a stubborn son of a bitch. What does that stem from?
KOWNSLAR: My stubborn nature I do believe I inherited from my mother. Hi, mom. I was brought up to be competitive, and to take pride in my work as well as accomplishments. I think over the years that developed into a sense of self reliance, drive and passion.
FPH: What is the first thing you remember waking up from the accident?
KOWNSLAR: The very first thing I remember upon waking up from surgery was being intubated. I was conscious throughout the entirety of the accident and coherent until the valium over came me in the emergency room while being placed in traction.
FPH: What are the things that have helped you through this?
KOWNSLAR: Clearly I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help, love and support of a multitude of people. From the strangers on the street who came running to my aide, to my neurosurgeon who so skillfully put me back together, to my doctor and therapists at TIRR who put up with my highs and lows and pushed me day in and day out, to the nurses and techs that helped me through my most vulnerable times, to my friends and family who worked out all the other necessary logistics to keep me moving forward allowing me to focus on my recovery and not worry about what was next. So many have sacrificed their time and money and sometimes their sanity out of love. I can truly say that I am blessed to have such a support structure in place. This hasn’t been easy on anyone and I owe my life and where I am today to many. There are many more who have been instrumental in my recovery, the paramedics and all other medical professionals involved along the way. I can’t forget to mention the outpouring of donations from people I know well to people I have never met. I continue to be blessed still.
FPH: You have made great progress. What you are trying to develop through exercise is ‘neural re-education.’ If you do not exercise, there is no progress. Has this become your ‘spiritual battle’ of sorts?
KOWNSLAR: I believe we are all given free will. There is a set amount that can be done or accomplished in any given situation and what we do to reach that potential is of our choosing. My spirituality has lead me to this belief. My battle is with myself at this point, I choose to recover.
The show’s lineup is literally a who’s-who list of Houston acts, performing to help out a guy who kept all of us safe at shows. Headlined by Gulf Coast indie rockers Deep Cuts, the all-day event brings a ton of bang for your buck. If you’ve never seen or heard of Deep Cuts, I’d guess that you don’t go out much. Aside from playing a ton of shows and sets at FPSF, as well as openers for a slew of touring acts, they’re one of the better indie rock bands Houston has to offer. Last year they dropped the single, “While The House Fills Up,” as well as a retrospective album, “Gulf Coast Companion, Vol. 1.” DJ and all around scratch master DJ Baby Roo will go on prior. Roo has been a fixture in the Houston hip hop scene for longer than some of you have been alive, and his DJ skills are easily in the top ten of DJs I’ve ever seen. The alt country twang of Grand Old Grizzly will be on before that and they’re one of those acts that’s too good to miss perform. Last year, they gave us the beautifully diverse album “Cosmonada,” and they’re always entertaining to see play. You can get your hip-hop mind expanded when RYMNA, or Raymond A of Def., drops a set before. Ray can spit on a mic with precision like a surgeon during brain surgery, and last year’s mixtape, “(The Unexpected…),” is pretty epic. He just dropped a new single, “Action/Steer,” that keeps those mic skills at the forefront.
Though they’ve been working on a new album for what seems like forever, the blues rock of The Beans will also be on the bill. These guys are performers in the definition of the word, and their debut album, “The Beans,” from 2013 still holds up. A set from the Chase DeMaster and Josiah Gabriel hybrid, Kult Dizney, will go on prior. These two don’t perform much, and if you missed them at FPSF last year, then you should check out their track “The Beggar” before watching them drop a dance heavy set. Electro pop group BLSHS, who perform before Kult Dizney, will delight you with their darker sounds from their two new EP’s out this year. Last year they released the single, “In And Out,” that showed hints of darker works to come, and they’re never short of impressive when they play out. A DJ set from Wonky Power Records’ Bang Bangz should be interesting, not only for what records they’ll play, but the for the fact that they could drop their popular single, “Let Go.” The tongue in cheek indie rock of Get A Life will go on before, and they’re one of those three pieces you need to see perform. Last year’s “As If Emoji” is still my jam, and they’re rumored to be dropping new music sooner than later. Josiah Gabriel will also be on hand to drop a set, which means that you’ll get your dance on. While we all wait for his new EP to drop, you can rest assured that his set will be one of the more turnt up sets of the whole benefit.
The one man synth pop of Rex Hudson will also perform a set. Hudson makes these intriguing little jams that are all over last year’s “No Return” EP, and his live sets are always worth watching, as he navigates multiple instrumentation by himself. Before that, an act that every Houstonian should see perform, Fat Tony, is dropping a set. Tony just released an amazing EP called “Look,” he has a ton of energy and he uses 100 percent of whatever space he’s performing in like no one else. The bluesy sounds of Nathan Quick will also be on the show, and this is one of the last times you’ll be able to hear songs from last year’s “City Lights” before his set at FPSF this year. ILL Faded is also participating in the benefit and should drop a mix of DJ jams and his own tunes, while new Houston band Blondestar will go on before him. The show will get started with a set from Hiram, who seems to drop new tunes on the weekly and his sets are always top notch.
The all ages show gets going at 2 pm and the suggested donation amount is $10, but you can give more since all of the proceeds will go to Jason’s recovery. You don’t have to come for the music, or come for the food, but you should make it out to support someone who kept you safe for a long time at shows and to support the will of never throwing in the towel.
Jason Kownslar’s BBQ & Benefit Show takes place at Raven Tower (310 North) on Sunday, April 24 starting at 2 pm.