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For years, when anyone mentioned the name Jack Jallo, it created a buzz among Tampa Bay’s local music scene.

Jack was perhaps one of the most popular musicians in the area but not for any songs he sang or any instruments he played. He was known for giving hundreds, if not thousands, of budding musicians the opportunity to perform and a place to call home.

Jack passed away in May. Friends are organizing a tribute concert to honor his memory. And in true Jack fashion, he is giving back even in death. Proceeds from the August 26 concert will benefit Tampa Bay Thrives to fight the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues.

Jack, who was 29, didn’t share his mental health struggles with many, said Kyle Kleemichen, who befriended Jack more than 10 years ago. Jack was a smart, loving, charitable, and good friend who was always smiling and joyful.

Jack started to make his mark in 2013 when he decided to turn some extra space in his father’s gas station plaza in Odessa into a performance venue.

He invited local punk and hard-core bands to perform and did not charge admission for that first show. One concert led to another…then another…until more than 300 performances later, Jack had amassed a legion of fans all over the country who knew that The Goat House in Odessa was the place where musicians went to pursue their dreams.

Anyone could play or hang out at The Goat House. Instead of paying to get into concerts, Jack gave fans the option of donating canned goods. In turn, he would take the cans to food banks and organizations that addressed food insecurity.

For three years Jack organized and promoted his concerts. People came from all over to perform or just to sing and dance. It was one of the few places that bands could play that wasn’t a bar. Teenage rockers and young musicians alike loved The Goat House. To their parents, it was a safe space for their children.

Jack offered traveling bands a place to crash at The Goat House for free. “Just lock up in the morning,” was the only thing he ever asked in return.

But Jack’s passion for The Goat House didn’t pay the bills and organizing concerts took up a lot of his time. In 2016, Jack shut

down the operation. Jack and The Goat House had touched so many that a mini documentary was filmed to pay tribute to Jack and the legacy he had built.

“Jack changed a lot of lives,” Kyle said. “He always made everybody feel they were important and their voices mattered.”

Acts of kindness were second nature to him. Jack cared deeply for people and would go to great lengths to show it.

“When you spoke to him, he listened in a way that could make you feel like the only person in a crowded room,” said Jack’s best friend Maya Kylgrave.  “He’d remember the small details about you that you had thought no one cared about or even noticed.”

He lived by the mantra: If you have the means, you have the duty.

If he knew someone needed help and he could provide it, he would. When he found out a friend of a friend who lived states away was in an unsafe situation and they had a secure place to stay but no way to get to Tampa Bay, he drove 12 hours to pick up a complete stranger and made the return journey in one fell swoop. If a friend was struggling to pay a bill or a car repair, he’d take care of it without expecting repayment.

He always did things with kindness, compassion — and humor.

Jack could make a whole room laugh.

“He’d tell elaborate and captivating stories only to drop the dumbest punchline you’ve ever heard and your sides would be splitting, not necessarily because the joke was that funny but his commitment to it and delivery of it was,” Maya said. “He was unabashedly goofy, making silly faces, making a fool of himself, but nothing embarrassed him if it meant making someone laugh, especially if he felt they needed it. That’s where his humor held power. He’d turn tears of sadness into tears of laughter with ease.”

Jack was also a champion of embracing your truest self. He had a collection of tattoos and piercings and wore makeup.

“His sense of self-expression was unmatched,” Maya said. “He never cared what people thought of the way he looked because he knew his carefully curated and unconventional style was his. He received more compliments than criticism on his bold appearance, sometimes coupled with something to the tune of ‘I wish I was brave enough to dress like that’ and he’d exclaim ‘YOU CAN!’ and encourage them to take risks and experiment. Confidence will come with authenticity, life is short, screw societal standards and expectations.”

After shutting down The Goat House, Jack decided to focus on a career in politics and later moved to Washington DC to serve as an intern for a U.S. Congressman. He came home often to play shows with his wild punk band Illuminate Me, said Kyle, who serves as the official band photographer. Jack served in various roles with different bands, which included lead singer, bass player, and drummer.

He was always uplifting and a bright light in every room he walked into. But “there was a fair amount of stuff Jack battled quietly,” Kyle said.

So, it was only fitting, Kyle said, to honor Jack’s memory with a concert with bands from The Goat House era while raising funds for mental health.

“We wanted to, as a music community, pay homage to all the things that he did,” Kyle said, “and to who he was as a person.”

The evening will feature seven bands and an emo night afterparty. Admission is $5 or – of course – a donation of canned goods.

Memories of Jack began pouring in on social media as word spread of his passing.

One friend’s tribute was especially moving:

“I’ll always cherish the many deep talks we had about our shared mental health struggles, especially during our teenage and young adult years when I felt no one else got it or cared. I admired your need to stay vulnerable and open, your creativity, kindness, generosity, and motivation to make a difference in every community you were a part of. You are already so missed, and you will never be forgotten.”

Tampa Bay Thrives

Tampa Bay Thrives is an innovative nonprofit helping people in the Tampa Bay area better address mental health and substance use issues.

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