Music News

R.I.P. Joseph "Vito" Albanese: Former Phoenix Punk Pioneer Killed in Seattle Cafe Racer Shootings

News reports indicate that the shooting at Seattle's Cafe Racer Espresso on Wednesday, May 30, took the life of Joseph "Vito" Albanese, an establishing member of the Phoenix punk rock scene.

Matt Driscoll of our sister paper Seattle Weekly's Daily Weekly blog writes that 40-year-old Ian L. Stawicki was behind the shooting of Albanese and Drew "Shmootzi The Clod" Keriakedes. Stawicki turned a gun on himself, ending his life in the middle of a West Seattle street later that afternoon.

Seattle Weekly writer Rick Anderson writes:

He shot six people he saw as his enemies, killing five, then got on his knees as police approached and, pulling the trigger one last time, surrendered himself to hell.

Albanese and Schmootzi were members of Seattle-based God's Favorite Beefcake, a folk band who jokingly write "a drinking band with a music problem" in the bio section of their official Facebook page. But Albanese's punk credentials stretch further back: He was a member of the The Brainz, an early component of the Placebo Records scene, and he later was a member of the seminal underground rock band Mighty Sphincter.

The band's Facebook page is flooded with comments. "They were incredible musicians and showmen, and the world truly has lost out. Incredibly sad to hear this," one fan wrote.

Local fans and peers have also expressed their admiration for Albanese.

Pete Etep of arts zine/blog AZ Kaos wrote a brief history of Albanese's involvement in Phoenix music, and added "Our condolences to the families and friends of those killed in this senseless tragedy."

Tom Reardon of Father Figures added his thoughts via Facebook:

So, as a young dude who loved music and thought the older cats in the Phoenix scene were often pretty cool, intense, and intimidating, I was struck by two particular bass players that I truly wanted to BE when I grew up. One of which I get to play in a band with now, and one of which was senselessly murdered today. I only got to meet Joe a few times, but for me his work in the Godwads was a huge reason why I fell in love with the idea of playing bass. I feel terribly for his family and friends and shudder at what they are going through tonight. I am truly saddened I didn't get the opportunity to talk shop with him or see him play again. RIP Joseph Vito Albanese

Local drummer Mike "Bam Bam" Sversvold of JFA and many more outfits called Albanese a "dear friend" via Facebook:

i just wanna say today i lost yet another dear friend-joseph vito albanese.back in the early 80's we played in mighty sphincter together,that's us on the cover of "this is phoenix,not the circle jerks" of the best times in my life,one ofe my better bands.yeah,i'm wearing an iron maiden shirt,but right now,i have big ass hole in my heart. r.i.p. joe,love always...bambam

Seattle Weekly's Reverb blog has more on the Cafe Racer.

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