Staple of Bay Area music scene dies at 41 after car accident

Joe Haener, a member of the Bay Area music scene and fiancé of garage rock icon Shannon Shaw, died early Tuesday morning after a truck crash just outside his family farm in Aurora, Ore. He was 41 years old.

Shaw, who planned to marry Haener in her hometown of Napa later this year, confirmed his death in an Instagram post Wednesday morning.

“I can’t believe I’m writing this but my dear Joe has passed away. Please send as much love and support as you can to the Haener family that I will be joining in November,” Shaw wrote. “The last two days of our lives were some of the best. He had to play music with Toody [Cole, the last surviving member of the legendary Portland punk band Dead Moon.] His whole family came to see him play the drums! He consoled me with different things and we planned the wedding and planned the honeymoon. Last week he just had this great big smile because he was thinking about the drums and how good and free it felt to play them. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”

Haener was driving a Ford F-150 southbound on Ehlen Road near Donald, Ore., and attempted to turn left into his lane when his vehicle was struck by another eastbound truck. Emergency responders arrived at the scene of the crash at 6:45 a.m. and transported Haener to a nearby hospital, where he later died of his injuries, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office told several media outlets.

Joe Haener at Topaz Farm in Portland, Oregon on August 11, 2022.

Courtesy of Noelle Fiore

Haener was born on January 1, 1981 in Portland, Ore. He went to La Salle High School in Milwaukie and later attended the University of Oregon before moving to the Bay Area and becoming a staple of Oakland’s DIY music scene. Haener was the drummer for the psychedelic rock band Gris Gris and a touring percussionist for the Dodos following the release of their 2008 album Visiter. Cody Blanchard, a guitarist and vocalist for Shannon and the Clams, told SFGATE that Haener started playing drums when he was in fifth grade, developing his style early playing along to James Brown records.

“Her parents let her put a bag in the living room at the far end of the house and leave as much as she wanted, no matter who else was in the house or how loud it was,” Blanchard said in an email.

Haener was part of several bands that helped cultivate the Bay Area’s thriving DIY scene during its early to late years, including post-hardcore band Battleship, as well as Blanche Devereaux, Case Studies, Dream Date, Eatskull, and Little Queenie. Before joining Gris Gris, he played in Rock N Roll Adventure Kids with Marc Ribak, who now runs the Bay Area punk festival Mosswood Meltdown and Thee Stork Club, and Oscar Michel, co-founder of Tacos Oscar in Oakland and a friend of long and fellow bandmate who would officiate Haener and Shaw’s wedding.

“We’ve obviously played so many shows in the Bay. Lots to remember,” Michel told SFGATE in an email. “We had a fun two-night stay at Bimbo’s [365 Club] opening for the YYYs at Gris Gris … We loved playing at the Hemlock Tavern (RIP) in all the bands we were in together. The Stork Club was also a favourite.”

Among the most memorable shows Michel played with Haener was Gris Gris’ last concert at the now-closed Ghost Town Gallery, better known as the Creamery, in West Oakland in 2009.

“A live recording was made. The room was packed, full of sketches, but it was a magical night,” he said.

Michel also had fond memories of a surprise Rock N Roll Adventure Kids reunion show last December. When the punk band got together for a rehearsal before the gig, they hadn’t practiced together in nearly a decade, but it was like no time had passed, he said.

“We got there, had a blast reminiscing and realized we didn’t need to rehearse because the songs were so easy and ingrained in us,” he said. “The show itself was a fun, drunken blur.”

Shannon Shaw and Joe Haener at the Schellraiser Festival in Ely, Nevada in June 2022.

Shannon Shaw and Joe Haener at the Schellraiser Festival in Ely, Nevada in June 2022.

Courtesy of Jose Boyer

Blanchard said the band’s performance at the Mosswood Meltdown last month was Haener’s last show in the Bay Area. The musician, who often filled in on drums for the band after he and Shaw began dating, also played at Shannon and the Clams’ pre-party show at Eli’s Mile High Club, which was supported by John Waters and held in celebration of Thee Stork . Revival of the club. At one point during the performance, Shaw returned to introduce her backup singers, the Donettes, as well as each member of her seven-piece band. When she mentioned that she would be marrying the drummer later that year, the audience erupted into some of the loudest cheers of the night.

“Joe and Shannon initially had a long-distance relationship and he would often hop in the van to join the Clams on tour so he could be with Shannon,” Blanchard told SFGATE. “He became a part of our lives, an ever-present family member of the band.”

Blanchard said Haener and Shaw “orbited each other in the Bay Area music scene for years” before having a chance encounter at a Starbucks in Oregon about six years ago. Haener had moved from California to work on his family’s farm in Aurora, and Shaw was in the middle of a tour with her band, en route to play a friend’s wedding in rural Oregon.

On that particularly rainy morning in October, the group made a stop at the coffee shop, where Haener approached Shaw and asked if she remembered him from the Bay Area.

“She did, of course, and that chance meeting crystallized their interest in each other and set in motion events that led to their romance, friendship and eventual engagement,” Blanchard said.

In an Instagram statement shared by Shannon and Clams on Saturday, the band said it would be taking some time off and canceling its upcoming appearances at Canada’s Purple City Music Festival and Ohio’s Nelsonville Music Festival “in light of this unimaginable loss”.

“We are heartbroken,” the statement said. “We will update you as soon as we have clarity on future dates beyond those and appreciate your sympathy and understanding as we go through such a painful time for our group.”

In his obituary, Haener’s family described him as “an avid vinyl collector” and “a true audiophile” who often struggled to create mixtapes for loved ones. He was a die-hard Portland Trail Blazers fan, enjoyed cooking and baking and, “despite his quiet demeanor, was super competitive on game night.”

Haener is survived by his mother and father, Delbert and Nannett, four siblings, Malinda, Danny, Sarah and Beth, and his grandmother, Beverly, as well as seven nieces and nephews. Blanchard said a funeral will be held Tuesday at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Woodburn, Ore.

“He was extremely sweet, non-judgmental, rarely had a bad word to say about anyone,” Blanchard said. “He was deeply loyal to his friends and remembered them all, always happy to rekindle old friendships with people he had lost touch with for years. He loved Shannon very much and planned to spend his life with her.”

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