When it rains, it pours. This week Cleveland lost two beloved — and very different — musicians with the deaths of Ed “Brother Ed” Wille and John Kuegeler.
Wille played with “Brother Ant” in tongue-in-cheek psychopunk duo Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival, whose material spoofed religious hucksters with tunes like “Gimme Back My Bible” and “I Can’t Bang You on a Sunday.” The band was known for their raw sound — Wille played cardboard box drums and sang through a megaphone — and their no-holds-barred shows. Among their career high points was opening up to Tool lead singer Maynard James Keenan’s band Puscifer in New York City in 2009. They released two CDs: 2002’s “Kickin’ the Devil in the Balls” and 2006’s “North of Hell.”
Wille and his wife Natalie were also for many years the proprietors of B-Ware in Lakewood, a video store that specialized in B-movies. A 2003 Scene article, titled From Punk to Parent, featured Ed & Natalie talking about what it was like to raise 18-month-old Angus.
Wille had been fighting lung cancer for a couple of years. Fellow musicians had organized several benefits for him, including one at Peabody’s in September 2010 dubbed “Kickin the Devil’s Ass,” and “Return of the Kick” at the Screaming Rooster last December. Alas, Brother Ed was not able to kick cancer’s ass in the long run.
Unlike Wille, jazz trumpeter Ed Kuegeler died suddenly and unexpectedly.
Kuegeler, who had a music degree from the Kent State jazz program, was known in the community as an educator and tireless player who, like many jazz musicians, jammed with a lengthy list of players and groups. Four years ago, he co-founded the Revolution Brass Band, a horn-driven funk-jazz-soul ensemble that’s become popular on the regional festival circuit.
Kuegeler was involved with the educational programs Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio and Roots of American Music. And in December, he was announced as one of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture’s Creative Workforce Fellows, a program that gives $20,000 grants to area artists to pursue projects of their choosing. The community will be poorer for not seeing his project come to fruition.
Kuegeler will be honored Saturday at the Waterloo Arts Festival with a “second-line parade,” part of a New Orleans tradition in which musicians and community members assemble following the somber part of a funeral and march through the streets singing and playing in celebration of the deceased person’s life.