Named after the influential jazz combo, JAM MESSENGERS is the name given by Interpol to an international music plunder network, composed of marginally successful rock musicians — mainly from Brazil, the US and the UK — which is accountable for some of the most audacious thefts in musical history. They have targeted several countries, and include Detroit’s most successful robberies ever amongst their thefts. They are responsible for what have been termed some of the most glamorous heists on record, and one criminologist even described their crimes as "artistry".
The gang first came to the attention of the authorities in 1999 following the theft of a priceless riff from a seminal Stooges track that occurred in the posh Silverlake section of Los Angeles. The thieves hid the sample in a well disguised groove called 2000 Blues. Three men were suspected of being behind the theft — Rob “Rob K” Kennedy, Marco (Uncle) Butcher and Jimmy Hole of the notorious LA burglary ring The Screws.
Kennedy, nominally the “Mouth” of the gang, is something of a celebrity among thieves. His criminal career spans at least four decades and twice that number of countries. The always dapperly dressed Butcher, well trained by the Brazilian cartels, is the author of all the gang’s instrumental assaults.
After a lengthy hiatus the pair reappeared in 2008 in the United Kingdom toggling between two infamous criminal gangs — the Lot Lizards and The Jooks of Kent. Accompanied by the latter, the Jam Messengers pulled off the Gravedigger’s Blues heist in which the swag was stashed in a Kentish coffin. The botched Central London job with the Lizards was always referred to by Kennedy as My Big Mistake. Little loot was taken and, in an unusually amateurish move, the gang triggered a Tascam alarm.
With the English constabulary hot on their heels, the Jam Messengers hurriedly lammed to Sao Paulo, Brazil where, in 2009, they joined forces with the two nefarious Daniels — the American Dan (Gory) Kroha and the Englishman, Dan (Castilian) Finnemore. Along with their confederate, Luis “Go Go Boy” Tissot, the crew pulled off the remarkable Pay To Play scam which successfully banked on the greed of South American gamblers and the insolvency of the Brazilian Real.
Fat with their antipodean haul the ring leaders, Kennedy and Butcher, made their way to Detroit. Taking advantage of that city’s civic woes and consequent dirth of law enforcement the pair teamed up with accomplices Greg (Oblivian) Cartwright and Sandy “Blondie” Kramer to pull off a string of the most brazen thefts in the Motor City’s history. Police pin the blame for the 2011 Thinking Boots and Cheap Shot capers on the quartet because of the distinctive taunting graffiti messages left behind (“Ride It Down”/ “Desperation Ain’t A Pretty Thing”). And who in Detroit will ever forget the Not Without You episode where Butcher, ironically arrested — for of all things — abuse of an endangered species because of his shoes, was sprung from the hoosegow by the cocksure gang.
Abandoning their accomplices, Kennedy and Butcher made tracks to their old hideout in New York City, 9 Ave. B, and spent the ill gotten Detroit pickings on Bikinis and Martinis with Kennedy’s former coconspirator Scott “Workdog” Jarvis.
This takes us to 2013 when the Jam Messengers went on an interstate spree in the American South East. The first inkling that they were up to their old ways was when West Virginia authorities reported a case of Sid Hatfield Blues — again with the familiar mocking graffiti, “How Many Years?”. And again with the Jam Messengers consorting with the worst criminals in the Appalachians; in this case Matthew (Sorrowful) Stalnacker, Robert “Lunger” McClung, Mathew C. Jordan and their feared female enforcer Dan “Yell” Conaway.
Continuing down the spine of the Appalachian chain, Kennedy and Butcher were next tracked to Asheville, NC where they applied the knowledge learned in the West Virginia hills brewing Bathtub Gin with disreputable Don “Basshole” Howland of the Gibson Brothers gang and Lance (Wiles) Wille. Again the derisive graffiti — “5 Kinds Of Bad” and “Untrue Love” sprayed on the barn housing the still this time — and again the pattern of slipping off to some familiar refuge when the heat was on; this time to the Eastern section of that same state and the crib of Butcher’s long time moll, Allegra Phillips. Holed up, hemmed in and harassed by all Authority the Jam Messengers put forth one final paean to their felonious lifestyle, Smoke It (Like We Don’t Have It), before slipping away to places unknown once again.
The recordings on this disc were culled from law enforcement sources, surveillance tapes and in some cases the Jam Messengers’ recordings themselves — hence the wide range of sound quality. Like the Norteno musicians the Jam Messengers emulate for their celebration of the criminal lifestyle, this collection of songs glorifies the very worst aspects of human nature. We issue it as a lesson and a warning and not in any way to endorse the Jam Messengers’ conduct or point of view.
2/18/00 - 2000 Blues: Recorded by Agent Larry Hardy at Mike McHugh’s Los Angeles hideout. Present were Rob K, Marco Butcher and Jimmy Hole.
3/7/08 - Gravedigger’s Blues: From Scotland Yard surveillance tape of the Jooks of Kent safe house. Present were Tim Ray, Skarlett Rickard, Chris Simmonds as well as Kennedy and Butcher.
3/26/08 - My Big Mistake: From the tapped intercom at the London loft of Lot Lizards’ cohort Jose Pumuky. GG Cicciolina, Meg Slim, Butcher and Kennedy in attendance.
12/19/09 - Pay To Play: CCTV footage from the Caffeine nightclub, Sao Paulo Brazil. Present were Dan Kroha, Daniel Finnemore, Luis Tissot and the Jam Messengers.
9/11/11 - Desperation Ain’t A Pretty Thing, Thinking Boots, Ride It Down, Not Without You, Cheap Shot: Recording discovered on an iPhone recovered at the scene of the Detroit Detention Center break out. Greg Cartwright, Sandy Kramer and the Jam Messengers’ voices have all been positively identified by voice recognition.
11/12/11 - Bikinis And Martinis: Audio tape provided by Scott Jarvis for a financial consideration. Present were Jarvis, Kennedy and Butcher.
3/13/13 - How Many Years, Sid Hatfield Blues: From Undercover Agent Neil G. Wallace’s body wire at the Fairmont, WV still. Jam Messengers were accompanied by Danielle Conaway, Matthew C. Jordan, Matt Stalnacker and Robert McClung.
4/14/13 - Bathtub Gin, Untrue Love, 5 Kinds Of Bad: Audio trap created by Asheville PD Officers Jamie Hepler and Patrick Kucka. Caught on tape were Don Howland, Lance Wille and Kennedy and Butcher
4/18/13 - Smoke It (Like We Don’t Have It): Mocking Message left by the Jam Messengers found by the North Carolina Sheriffs Department on Allegra Phillip’s answering machine.
released January 4, 2016
Rob K - voice, words
Marco Butcher - guitars
plus star power guests
all rights reserved