Affect: A noun meaning “mental state”: “In his report, the psychiatrist, noting his lack of expression or other signs of emotion, described his affect as flat.”
Effect: A noun meaning “the result of a cause”: “The effect of the lopsided vote was a loss of confidence in the chairman.”
Every now and then, in our travels as human beings, we meet someone who can and does both.
Back in about 1996 -1997, I went to the Musician’s Friend store in Kirkland, Washington, to buy a new board for my recording studio. The salesperson I talked to seemed congenial enough- but, even though his actions were really relaxed, he had an air about him that I just trusted. I purchased the board and immediately ran into a problem (no external power supply in the manufacturer’s box) and this sales guy gave me the hookup on where to find one, and took care of getting one squared away for me. That simple handling of my issue and the way it was fixed was something I had experienced many, many times before- and, honestly, the guy helping me was no more gracious than anyone would have expected under the circumstances, but his demeanor was intoxicating. He took time to find out what I was doing and how I was doing it, and gauged my knowledge accordingly, and once he figured out that I *kind of* knew what I was after, he further engaged me.
And thus – with a single purchase, began my travels with Steve Dooley.
Pretty much right away, Steve became my go-to guy for all things sound-related. But, much more than that, he became a trusted friend. Musician’s Friend (and later, Guitar Center) in Kirkland had something known as the “Dooley Deal” – Steve would make these ridiculous deals on pretty much anything you wanted or needed, but the truth of the matter is that I would have gladly paid full boat when buying from Steve. He was just that good.
Over time, as I got to know Steve, it became apparent that Steve had some “issues” – as do we all – but Steve’s were a little more invasive than most. He drank. A lot. He got into trouble. A lot. He wasn’t a flake by any means, but he straddled that line between quality of life and quantity of life that makes one have a life devoid of the ability to make good choices. His lifestyle – and, I’m not judging here – was the one of someone who really didn’t like themselves very much- pretty darned self-destructive. I’m not going into details here, for they are unimportant as to where we left off. What I can say is, that, as a fellow addict, I could relate very well to Steve and what was going on.
After literally hundreds of gigs together with Steve, I managed to convince him to start running sound with a startup church that I was affiliated with, Cascade Hills Church. Getting Steve involved was a team effort between myself and the Sr. Pastor, Darrell Waddell. Steve was still rough around the edges.
Somewhere along our tenure together, Steve started making changes in his life. One could very easily say that as he got older, he got more sense- and, I know differently. Steve embraced God and the redemption of Jesus Christ, and the more he was involved in that, the changes he made, he made more completely and quickly, and some of these changes were very, very difficult for him to make. Honestly, I figured he would fail over time, but he never did. He just kept going. He changed his drinking (read: stopped); he changed his living situation (moved away from rooming with a fellow addict and moved in with his new business partners, Guy and Sharon Wilson); he took care of some very painfully made poor choices he had previously made in his life in an effort to “grow up. (Those were his exact words.)
Now, this isn’t different from a lot of people. Lots of people get their heads on straight later in life (it took me until about age 30) but here’s what IS different- not one, single time- at any point- did he complain about his lot. Not ONCE. He endured so much over such a short amount of time with constant forward movement, that anyone else (including me) would have cut and run away. And, he did it with grace and humor and a steadfast resolve. Yeah, there were some bumps along the way, but they were minor and fleeting. And, all the while Steve was changing, he and I worked more and more together and we got closer and closer. In every sense of the term, Steve became the older brother I never had.
In about 2002, Steve began working at another church in Everett, Washington, along with another good friend of mine (and staff member from Cascade Hills) and his life really took off. His reputation in the Seattle area music scene was unparalleled; he had garnered the respect of every single solitary musician in the area (so much so that I used to decide on whether or not I would play for people based on whether or not they knew Steve….) and he met and married Beth- and truly great woman. His life was finally on track, and the dark days of yesteryear were gone. He had arrived.
And then, in 2007, disaster struck. Steve was diagnosed with colon cancer and given 18 months to live.
I submit to you that anyone I or you know would have been absolutely devastated by this. They would have asked the question, “GOD!!! WHAT THE #$(%*&??? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING” and then would have folded up their tent and gone home, and no one would have blamed them. I certainly would have.
That diagnosis, while scary, did not deter him one, single bit. He got stronger. He resolved not to quit and to carry on. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, therapy, more surgery- all that followed- and it didn’t even slow him down. They were small bumps in his road and nothing more. His demeanor just got better and better, and it was difficult to tell that anything was wrong to anyone who interacted with him. The Steve of old was completely gone and replaced with an absolute stalwart, steadfast individual who never wavered, never quit and never had anything but hope. It was amazing to behold. It was at this point that Steve’s effect started to have affects. All who knew what he was going through were completely amazed at not only his tenacity, but his energy. He just kept going, and the Energizer Bunny would have been winded trying to keep up with him.
The last gig I did with Steve was at Christmas in 2012, a full 3.5 years after he was supposed to be gone. There was something different- he told me his back was killing him, and that he must of have lifted something wrong. That wasn’t the case- the cancer was back, and this time, he wasn’t going to win.
This past Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 10:45AM, my dear, dear friend, Steve Dooley lost his battle with cancer. His wife, Beth, was at his side. He fought valiantly (understatement of the century) but in the end, he went quickly and quietly- exactly as he fought his demons in life- quickly and quietly. Resolutely and without fanfare. The loss I and his friends and family feel is PROFOUND, but we all know without any semblance of doubt that Steve is in a better place. It has only been a few days, and the pain and loss to my life is unbelievably deep- I spent all evening at Highway 99 Blues Club last night at his benefit show (my band, Bump Kitchen, played it) wondering if I’d see him walk in the door. It was so strange that he wasn’t there.
The Dooley Effect has become the Dooley Affect, and I, for one, will never be the same as a result of having this remarkable human being in my life. I’ll leave you all with my absolute favorite Steve Dooley story, and this will give you a bare idea of the man that we all just lost:
Back in 2001, I was the music director and producer for a local blues artist here in Seattle (name in unimportant) and her CD release party was happening at F.X. McRory’s in downtown Seattle. I had hired Steve to run sound- and Steve never did anything small when it came to a system. We showed up at the restaurant at about 1PM and began loading gear – and, I mean a TON of gear – into this small venue. Steve at this time had hair down to about his butt, and always wore a black, leather jacket (I think it was a JBL jacket) and black jeans, and had the look of a homicidal biker. We had finished loading in all but one last power amp rack and were outside, having a smoke before going in and hooking all the gear up when the manager of the restaurant came out- this smallish little blonde, about 30 years old, and she’s white as a sheet-
“Uh….er…..um…..gee- that is a lot of equipment you guys are bringing in there. Is this gonna be really loud? It’s a small room ya know”, she asked with fear flickering in her eye.
Steve takes a big drag on his cigarette and blows a cloud of smoke the size of a Honda Accord out, straight over his own head, looks down at her with a menacing grin.
“Now……..do I look like the kind of guy that would make things too loud?”
Her reaction was priceless. Her jaw went slack, as did her shoulders. She said nothing, and turned sheepishly away and walked back into the club, while this bass player about wet himself.
She had just experienced the Dooley Effect.
I love ya, Steve.