Guitarist Honors Late Mother, Friend Through Music


An Evansville man honored the memories of those he’s lost by doing the thing he knows best: playing music. Jared Beamer’s streetside performance on Tuesday afternoon outside Penny Lane Coffeehouse took on a much deeper purpose.

Music has a way of soothing the soul. For Beamer, it has always been there.

“I’ve been playing guitar for as long as I can remember,” Beamer said. “You can live whatever kind of moment you want through music.”

After taking a few music lessons as a kid, Beamer’s ability to play largely comes from years of learning by ear, he said. How it makes him and those around him feel, however, comes from the heart.

“I play a lot of Eric Church. I love it. He’s such an incredible song writer,” Beamer said. “His songs have single-handedly helped me through some of these challenging times.”

Beamer knows a thing or two about challenging times. Specifically, the past month has brought loss and pain.

On September 20th, his mother, 51-year-old Janet Gries, was jogging on Boonville-New Harmony Road near Darmstadt, just like she did seemingly every morning. Gries was an avid and accomplished runner.

Around 5 o’clock that morning, a driver left the roadway and hit Gries. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deputies said the driver was distracted by a can of tobacco.

“Singing was something that she enjoyed. I didn’t perform for a lot of people but I always performed for her. She loved it,” Beamer said. “After losing her, it was really hard to pick [the guitar] and play.”

While still understandably grieving the loss of his mother, Beamer would be beset by another tragedy. On Saturday, while Beamer was out of town, he received a phone call that Nick Smoot, his close friend and fellow fraternity brother, passed away. The two were part of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity at Indiana University.

“He was just contagious with positivity and keeping everything together,” Beamer said. “He was just the glue for so many people.”

Prior to Tuesday afternoon, Beamer hadn’t picked up his guitar and played since his mother’s death. After Smoot’s death, Beamer knew he had to do something.

He decided to host an impromptu performance at Penny Lane, accepting donations that will go toward Smoot’s funeral expenses. It was the least he could do, Beamer said.

“I know his family is struggling. It’s extremely familiar to me,” Beamer said. “To me, this is it. This is my chance to make an impact. That’s what Nick and my mom have done for me. If I just get out here and sing and show everybody and live the values that they lived, it’s like they’re still here.”

While Tuesday’s concert will ultimately benefit Smoot’s family, it also served as a cathartic moment for Beamer.

“It helps me with my mom’s passing. It helps me to kind of keep going. I can’t play for my mom but I can play for everything she stood for,” Beamer said.

Beamer’s fraternity also started a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for Smoot’s family. The page can be found by clicking this link.

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