By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
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By Nathan Smith
He left a handwritten three-page note. "It was a real formal-sounding letter, not very emotional," says Woracheck. "He spent the first page-and-a-half explaining the pain he was in. He said that he knew people were going to judge him, but he was resolved to do it." He then dispersed his musical instruments.
A legacy of journals, recordings and hints remain. Like Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged performance, Brumfield's final recordings are on acoustic guitar, with Woracheck accompanying him on the musical saw. They sound like an extended suicide note. He starts with Charley Patton's "Down the Dirt Blues," which begins with the lines, "I'm going away to a world unknown/I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long." Brumfield, whose mother died last year, will be buried next to her in Houston, Mississippi, in the same cemetery as Patton.
At Tower Grove Park, one by one, friends and family stood to talk about Toast. Friction, who played drums with Brumfield and singer/guitarist Mark Stephens in the Highway Matrons, used to be roommates with him. Once when Friction was taking a bath with a girlfriend, Brumfield walked in. Rather than politely exit, he stood there until Friction finally invited him in. "He was out of his clothes in three seconds flat."
"I've got a bathtub story, too," Stephens, another one-time Toast roommate, adds later. He stumbled in on the scrawny Toast in the tub playing with his rubber ducky. He was singing the words to local band Otto's Revenge's song "I Wanna Live Like Clint Eastwood." "I walked in and he was in the tub singing those lyrics -- 'I want to live like Clint Eastwood.' I looked at him and said, 'Brother, you've got a long way to go.'"
As musicians in the background sang "You Are My Sunshine," others recalled the wild Hunter, the thoughtful Hunter, the generous Hunter. They described a master musician and conversationalist, a charismatic superstar, a poet and a music lover.
Somebody should write a book. In a perfect world, Toast would have stuck around to pen it himself.