It is with some sadness that I learnt, via Jeffrey Zeldman’s tweet, that Brad Graham has passed away. While I didn’t know Brad well, his death prompted me to dig up old photos I had of him, and look back at what he did in the context of SXSW, which I am most familiar with.
(Others may choose to write about Brad’s contributions in different areas, for he was a man of many interests and talents. What’s important is that our blog posts and tweets will serve to remind us of him in a more permanent manner.)
My first SXSW pilgrimage was made in 2006. As a greenhorn I had lots to learn about the culture and traditions at this annual geekfest in Austin, Texas. Fortunately, I had veteran Lucian to show me the ropes.
One of the first things we did, before the real programme started, was to attend Break Bread with Brad. Break Bread with Brad 2006 took place at the Gingerman Pub. From my Flickr collection:
Who was Brad?
He came across as very confident and extroverted; a people-oriented guy, always joking around with random folks. This was his stage, and everybody knew who he was. Beyond these first impressions, though, I also thought it was a pretty good idea of his to organize this event as it served as an ice-breaker, especially for SXSW newbies like me.
As the host, Brad gave out quirky little prizes to guests and provided general entertainment for everyone.
I met Brad, and recall he sat near me, telling some of us his reason for organizing Break Bread every year - to meet more people. At the same time, he was giving something back to SXSW by creating this tradition. After you meet people at Break Bread, talking with them again is easier when you next bump into them at the Convention Centre.
A few people I met at Break Bread, I did keep in touch with over the next few years. Such as Ralph, Elaine and Pat at Break Bread 2006. At Break Bread 2007 I met my ‘fellow Tan’, Sarah who then became my room mate at SXSW 2008. So, thank you Brad, for giving us all a platform to make new acquaintances.
Break Bread 2007 was at Buffalo Billiards. I recall meeting Wilson and walking there with the Dell team in the evening. This time, I was no longer the newbie but was showing the SXSW newcomers around. I took another photo of Brad, here:
Despite meeting lots of people, Brad wasn’t the kind of guy that would just shake your hand and forget who you were, 10 minutes later. I recall in the later hours of Break Bread 2006, there was a prize to be given out for the person who travelled the longest distance to SXSW. Brad remembered Lucian and me, and called out that there were Singaporeans in the audience. He looked pointedly, and mischievously, in our direction.
Unfortunately, we lost out to a big Aussie, who did deserve the prize as it is a longer distance from Down Under to downtown Austin.
But hey, thanks for remembering us, Brad.
We will remember you.