Last night, friends and family members of Christo Buffam gathered at Cheap Storage to commemorate the life of the musician and artist who, last Wednesday, died in his apartment of unknown causes at the age of 31.
The Bushwick venue filled quickly, leaving no question that Buffam — who played guitar with The Vandelles and Dead Leaf Echo — was loved. “There are people from Iceland, Switzerland, San Antonio, the UK,” said Eric Ervin, manager of the Vandelles and the event’s DJ.
Ervin had just cut Buffam’s hair on Monday. “I gave him a Paul McCartney haircut,” he said. “He called me from [Alaska, where Buffam was a bartender] on Tuesday and said that everyone loved the haircut.”
Jasno Swarez, lead singer and guitarist of the Vandelles, remembers Buffam as a very unique person who was stoic in his decision-making. The morning after Buffam met the Vandelles, he took them to IHOP, Swarez said. “We sat there for two hours, just eating and bullshitting! I will never forget it. His humor was so dry, shocking in a really funny way.”
One woman brought flowers to the empty drum set on stage. Some laughed, others hugged and cried.
L.G. Galleon of Death Leaf Echo met Buffam in 2007, at a concert in Brooklyn. Galleon couldn’t believe that Buffam had heard of his band. “The thing about Christo is he would always leave an amazing first impression. He was just really positive and really enthusiastic about music and art,” said Galleon.
They started working together — at a local printing lab and at Alaska — and ended up touring all over the country.
“He was probably one of the most social people I have ever met in my life,” said Galleon. “He was constantly going out and watching shows and supporting people. And he had no agenda. A lot of people go out and network for their own benefit, but this guy was honestly really out there trying to discover new things and new people.”
Buffam was an avid silkscreen printer who often made album covers for bands, and occasionally acted as road manager for the Vandelles. Dave Cromwell, a music journalist, remembered road tripping with him through Austin for South by Southwest. “He was a caretaker,” said Cromwell. “I’ll never forget one time the people I was staying with just left and he had a place for me to go.”
Buffam always had a place to stay because he had so many friends, Cromwell said.
“I didn’t realize how many people he touched and was close to,” Swarez agreed. “I’m not even sure he realized it.”