Jesse Valencia

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Jesse Valencia
Birth nameJesse Michael-Geronimo Valencia
OriginPhoenix, Arizona, US
GenresIndie rock, Psychedelic rock, Alternative rock, power pop, folk
Instrument(s)Guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, piano, drums, harmonica
Years active2001–present

Jesse Michael-Geronimo Valencia[1] is an American musician, author, and actor. He founded the music group Gorky and authored a nonfiction book called Keep Music Evil: The Brian Jonestown Massacre Story.


Valencia's family moved to Show Low, Arizona when he was 15 years old. He graduated from Show Low High School.[2] Valencia attended Northern Arizona University where he got his BS in humanities in 2011. He got two master's degrees there, one in English - Creative Writing in 2014, and one in English - Literature in 2015.[3] He has also served in the military police for the Army.[2]

Music career[edit]

Valencia founded the indie rock band Gorky in Show Low, Arizona in 2001.[4] In 2002, Ben Holladay joined on drums and has played in the band ever since.[5] The band have self-released three studio albums, including The Gork...And How To Get It! (2018), More Electric Music (2018) and Mathemagician (2019). The third album was recorded during Valencia's first semester at the David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts after learning the Transcendental Meditation technique, and released in April 2019 to coincide with the release of his debut nonfiction book, Keep Music Evil: The Brian Jonestown Massacre Story. Also in April, Gorky embarked on a short tour in support of Mathemagician, where Valencia would host author events at local bookstores and read from Keep Music Evil.[6]


In 2019, Valencia published the book Keep Music Evil: The Brian Jonestown Massacre Story, a narrative that explores the history of The Brian Jonestown Massacre band. Tony Creek of RockShot magazine wrote the book "Presented as a personal narrative that evokes the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, Keep Music Evil sets the record straight once and for all, providing close insights into the band’s origins in early 1990s San Francisco, their record-making process, and the full, unexpurgated tale of Dig! and its impact. Featuring rare, candid photographs of the band from throughout their career, this is the first comprehensive study of one of rock’n’roll’s most enduring sagas."[7] The book includes Valencia's work from interviewing over 125 people connected to the band over ten years.[citation needed] It was included in a Vogue magazine article that listed what their editors were reading that summer.[8]


Valencia made his on-screen acting debut opposite Tom Sizemore in the 2016 independent crime drama Durant's Never Closes, and later appeared in the art horror Bride of Violence and post-apocalyptic short film The Mad Man Of Miami.[citation needed] In 2019, he enrolled in the David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts for their screenwriting program at the Maharishi University of Management.[2][9]

Sitgreaves County[edit]

As early as 2017, in order to promote Gorky's in-development musical film In The Land Of Good Oaks, Valencia began pushing the idea of a Sitgreaves County secession movement in the southern parts of Navajo and Apache Counties to local Republican groups in Northeastern Arizona. In the story of 'Good Oaks', the character Valencia was to play, Rhys Diaz, was similarly the creator of such a county. The stunt only made it as far as the local newspaper. From 2018 to 2020, as Valencia was in the David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts MFA in Screenwriting Program developing the screenplay to the film, ‘Sitgreaves County’ grew from a fizzled publicity stunt to a full-blown populist movement. During this time, Valencia successfully lobbied Rep. Walter Blackman and Sen. Wendy Rogers to each introduce their own Sitgreaves County study committee bills into the Arizona Legislature.[10]

In 2021, Valencia pulled the plug on the final Sitgreaves County bill and revealed his intentions of promoting himself, Gorky, and the film after Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer issued a formal letter to Governor Doug Ducey appealing to him to veto the bill if it passed, as the Navajo leadership interpreted any Sitgreaves County bill as being racist legislation directed against them.[11][12]

After issuing an official apology to the Arizona State and Tribal Governments, Phoenix Magazine and The Arizona Republic released articles about the Sitgreaves County publicity stunt. Valencia subsequently released Gorky's 7th album "Sitgreaves County" on July 3, 2021.[13]


  1. ^ "Jesse Valencia's Response To The Recent and Slanderous Smear Piece In The Cedar Hills Senior Center Newsletter". 4 October 2019. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Corrigan, Terence (November 27, 2018). "A Plan To Divide The Counties". White Mountain Independent. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  3. ^ "Jesse Valencia '11/'14/'15". Northern Arizona University. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  4. ^ Chase, MacKenzie (April 11, 2019). "Hard Work + Dedication: Gorky's Jesse Valencia Thrives As A Jack Of All Trades". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Gorky Delivers Rapacious "Action Pants" From New LP "Mathemagician"". Glide Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Local music picks for Phoenix: Playboy Manbaby, Banana Gun, Humdinger Festival, Bittersweet Way". Arizona Central. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Brian Jonestown Massacre To Release 18th Studio Album & Book". Rockshot Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  8. ^ Seymour, Corey (June 1, 2019). "Beach Reads and Beyond: What Vogue Editors Are Reading On The Beach This Year". Vogue. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  9. ^ Valencia, Jesse (14 April 2019). "Transcendental Meditation, David Lynch & I". Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  10. ^ Lemons, Stephen (4 May 2021). "Show Low Musician Punks Arizona Legislature". Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  11. ^ D'Anna, John (25 Jul 2021). "How A Fictional County And A Far-Fetched Gag Led Eastern Arizona to the Brink of Secession". Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  12. ^ Gervasi, Angela (10 Mar 2021). "KNAU's Morning Rundown:Wednesday March 10". Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  13. ^ Valencia, Jesse (26 Mar 2021). "From the Inventor of Sitgreaves County". Retrieved 2 November 2021.

External links[edit]