Monday, January 25, 2010


Jandek is the musical project of an outsider musician who operates out of Houston, Texas. Since 1978, Jandek has self-released over 60 albums of unusual, often emotionally dissolute folk and blues songs without ever granting more than the occasional interview or providing any biographical information. Jandek often plays a highly idiosyncratic and frequently atonal form of folk and blues music, often using an open and unconventional chord structure. Jandek's music is unique, but the lyrics closely mirror the country blues and folk traditions of East Texas. The name "Jandek" is most commonly used to refer specifically to the main—often sole—performer, rather than to the project.

Only a handful of people claimed to have successfully contacted Jandek before he began regularly playing in public (see below). He releases albums through his own record label Corwood Industries, keeping a Houston post office box so fans can write to Corwood for a typewritten catalogue and order Jandek’s albums, usually at inexpensive prices. Many of his albums feature pictures of a certain man at various ages; although it seemed likely, it was not until Jandek's live debut in 2004 that it became certain that the man depicted on the album covers was the principal performer.

Although never formally confirmed, it is widely accepted that Jandek's real name is Sterling Richard Smith; a review of Ready for the House in OP magazine, the first ever national press given to Jandek, refers to the artist as Sterling Smith,checks written to Corwood come back endorsed by Smith, and Smith is listed as the claimant in the copyright records for Jandek's albums at the Library of Congress. Despite this evidence, Corwood never uses the name in connection with Jandek, and, in turn, many of Jandek's fans respectfully maintain this separation. He is widely believed to live in the area of Houston, Texas, as this is the location of the post office box which has been used by Corwood from the beginning. There is also a telephone number for Corwood Industries listed in the phone book for the area.

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