Jason Keil

Jason Keil is a writer whose work has been published in the Phoenix New Times, AZCentral.com, Phoenix Magazine, and OnMilwaukee.com. He also co-hosts the podcast What The Fork.

Top 2015 Moments

Last week, I was talking with a friend online. She made me cry.

"Moving to Arizona was the best thing you did," she said, "You've come so far!"

The waterworks began (at my desk). My friend knew me years ago when I was going through the roughest part of my life. I was getting divorced and struggling with a lot of personal issues. 

This made me think: Instead of making a "Best Of" list for 2015 music (Sorry Kendrick Lamar, it was Torres and Courtney Barnett this year), I could take stock of all the awesome moments from my life in the past year instead. I truly believe my friend when she tells me I've become a better person. I'm not trying to brag, but I've felt closer to happy than I ever have. 

So here are some moments I want to share from my journey this year:

The Three Concert Week

I was lined up to review Florence and the Machine on a Tuesday. Then I received a call asking to review Alt-J the next night. Two different venues. Two different musical styles. Two wildly different performances. Florence Welch bounced across the stage of the Ak-Chin Pavilion like a possessed ginger. Alt-J at Comerica Theatre was robotic and stiff. I was tired and exhausted writing reviews into the night and headed to my day job a few hours later. 

Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I received an email. "You're on a roll. Want to review Janet Jackson?" I enthusiastically typed in all caps "YES." I witnessed a comeback of a star whom I've admired for decades. She danced and sang with such precision. I never seen anything like it and doubt I will again in the near future.  

I've been dreaming of a time when I would drive from one venue to another feverishly writing my opinions, sort of like I imagine NPR's Bob Boilen does all the time. I finally got to experience that, but sleeping in just once would've been nice.

The Canadians

I was pretty lucky this year. I interviewed the bassist or the drummer of that popular band you like. I talked with an exhausted Brandon Flowers from The Killers. All of this went pretty ok (I think). 

Hand it to the Canadians. They know how to have a conversation. Early in 2015, I interview Daniel Benjamin of Toronto band Moon King. He was such a delight. His enthusiasm for music was contagious. It doesn't hurt that the songs he creates are epic. He's as unpretentious as they come. A few months later, I spoke to Dan Bejar of Destroyer. We geeked out over Roxy Music's Avalon. I beamed over that for days.

Back To Cali

I haven't seen the ocean for most of my life. Now it feels like I'm making up for lost time. My honeymoon was spent in Big Sur and Solvang. We met cool people, ate great food, and drank great wine. I saw the Bixby Canyon Bridge. I visited secluded area on Highway 1 that brought Kerouac such sadness and inspiration. 

In the summer, I walked inside City Lights Bookstore, where Kerouac and many of the Beats hung out. I ventured across the Bay into Oakland, and I'm pretty sure I saw comedian Greg Proops walking the streets near our hotel. I also peered inside Industrial Light and Magic, the effects house I've been obsessed with since I was a teenager. In less than a month, I run 26.2 miles through Los Angeles. It's all going to tumble into the sea soon, so why not enjoy California while I still can.

My First Triathlon

It's tough hanging out with a bunch of Ironman finishers like my wife and her circle of friends. They've got such great stories. It's been a struggle for me just wading in a pool. I've struggled with a debilitating fear of all things aquatic for most of my life. I decided to conquer that fear over the summer. My patient wife worked to get me ready to jump into Tempe Town Lake only to forget everything she taught me as soon as I jumped in. I still earned a finisher's medal. The best part is that I'm eager to do it all over again.

Kristen

I'm obviously biased, but this year I married someone who understands my quirks, ambitions, and struggles. She doesn't judge me for pursuing and indulging in them. We threw a great party to celebrate our love. I can't believe how lucky we are that so many friends and family visited our little ceremony in Tempe. 

We've accomplished so much this year. We even hiked through the Grand Canyon! If her saying 'yes' wasn't surprise enough, imagine how we felt when we heard a heartbeat coming from Kristen's stomach. It was nothing we planned for. Yet we were going to have a son despite our plan to enjoy our marriage for a year or so. I honestly can't wait to share with him all the things I love: James Bond, Elvis Costello, and David Bowie.

2016 is shaping up to be epic. I'm working toward a PR for the LA Marathon. Our little man arrives in May. The caliber of artists arriving in Phoenix is nothing short of stunning.

Cheers and thank you!