Saenz is the chief engineer and owner of Modern Electric Sound Recorders, a studio that has helped give birth to countless records including Jonathan Tyler’s Holy Smokes, Nikki Lane’s Highway Queen, The Texas Gentlemen’s TX Jelly, Paul Cauthen’s My Gospel, The Reverend Horton Heat’s REV, among many others, all of which Saenz helped engineer.
On June 1, Saenz was nearly killed after coming into contact with a downed power line in his backyard. He experienced severe electrical burns, with 25 percent of his body affected with third- and fourth-degree burns. His left hand has been amputated, and he'll likely lose his right hand and arm as well. Saenz is expected to remain in the ICU for an extended period of time, already having undergone six surgeries with many more to come.
Almost immediately after the accident, Saenz’s friend and Avalon Salon owner Ric Bowden set up the Jeff Saenz Recovery Fund to help Saenz’s family cover medical costs. Soon after, Bowden and Modern Electric co-chief engineer Beau Bedford decided to put on a benefit show to help even further. “Jeff Fest,” as it’s being billed, is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 11, at Double Wide — one of Saenz’s favorite watering holes.
“Ric and I started trying to raise money immediately,” says Bedford. “The best way for us was to reach out to people who had worked with Jeff, and we’re so grateful that so many artists jumped on and immediately agreed to do this.”
There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from the DFW music community, with dozens of musicians testifying to Saenz’s kindness and influence.
“Jeff is one of my oldest friends in Dallas,” says Jonathan Tyler, one of the musicians performing at the benefit and a frequent collaborator of Saenz’s. “He and I always talk about motorcycles and creative things. He’s opened his doors up to so many artists, and at the beginning gave really good deals to help a lot of people make albums when they otherwise probably couldn’t have. He’s given so many people their start and a place to call home.”
Singer Taylor Nicks, who works at Modern Electric as a sort of artist relations liaison, first became acquainted with Saenz as an artist before they became coworkers and friends.
"He’s opened his doors up to so many artists ... He’s given so many people their start and a place to call home.” – Jonathan Tyler of Jeff Saenz
“We have been working to rally our resources in order to keep the studio afloat while Jeff is recovering,” Nicks says. “It seemed only fitting to put the same effort to help Jeff and his family.”
Nicks says Saenz’s studio presence is not only one of support, but one that inspires confidence in artists who seek out his musical expertise.
“He was an apprentice for producer Dave Cobb [Chris Stapleton, Lake Street Dive, Rival Sons] out of California, so he brought a unique vibe to DFW that really is incomparable to any studio," Nicks says. "He became the backbone of our musical community with his ability to bring out the best in people. He’s not only created a space for musical creativity, but for cultural creativity.
"This space is him: kind, gentle, with the spirit of a producer and engineer. He’s been instrumental in creating a beautiful music scene in Texas and beyond.”
The lineup for Jeff Fest includes Paul Cauthen, Jonathan Tyler, David Ramirez, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Sir Woman, Thomas Csorba, DJ Electrophunck, Sam Anderson of Quaker City Night Hawks, Left Arm Tan, and About You. All of the artists and staff involved in the event are donating their time to ensure that the entire earnings from the show go to help Jeff Saenz and his family.
Those wishing to donate can do so at www.jeffsaenzrecoveryproject.com.