Boy, I Just Love Mix Tapes!: In memoriam Jeff Briel

The light and sound of old pals – how temporal but real – real always – they are!

I remember my friend Jeff Briel, who passed away just last week.

Mat Darby and I interviewed Jeff and his first band for the ill-fated second issue of our ‘zine. It was a straightedge band called Dead Issue. Straightedge hardcore was serious business back then, but Jeff always had a silly sweetness that betrayed any tough facade. 

This tape was a present from Jeff for my 20th birthday. I remember when he handed me this mixtape, and I was struck by how endearingly “uncool” the cover art was. It was light and sweet, like Jeff.

Mix tape art work: Jungle Book with a character saying "Boy, I Just Love Mix Tapes!"

Cover art for mixtape from Jeff

Track list for mix tape

Mix tape track list 

I don’t really recall how much or how little I spent time with Jeff, or “J Briel” as we came to jokingly call him. He was always around in those days in the way friend circles effortlessly circulate when you are young. I remember Jeff driving us through the York, PA Burger King drive-through. He introduced me to the concept of “a vegan Whopper,” which was a Whopper with no meat or cheese. It was lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles on a fast food bun. It was a little silly, but serious, too. Like Jeff.

Jeff standing in my high school bedroom

I lived in Richmond, VA for graduate school. By then, Jeff’s band Sadaharu was on the touring circuit and came to Alley Katz. He shared his elaborate system for tracking all the album sales. He was very dedicated to it. He talked about moving units, tongue in cheek. Or was it? Sometimes you couldn’t tell with Jeff and it didn’t matter. It was so fun to see him enjoying his band. 

I didn’t keep in good touch with Jeff. I ran into him over the years and sometimes heard updates through the grapevine. This last update was a terrible surprise.

My love to all who loved him. I’m proud to have been one such person. Love to you as you pass through, Jeff Briel. There will not be another even remotely like you, that is for sure.


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