As you may have noticed from my blogs, I'm a huge believer in the power of music to motivate change, both social, political and personal. Which is why when I heard that my friends over at Merge Records were throwing a benefit concert for one of their former interns whom has recently been diagnosed with brain cancer, Cy Rawls, I wanted to give Huffpo readers the chance to participate in a very worthy cause even if we all can't make it to the August 29th show.
Superchunk, The Rosebuds and Birds of Avalon will be playing a concert to benefit the Cy Rawls Benevolance fund on August 29th at Cat's Cradle in NC, in an effort to raise money to help Rawls pay for his extremely costly treatments (if you live in the area, you can buy tickets here. But if you don't, and would like to make a donation, email Merge). Rawls, like many other Americans of his age (he is only in his early thirties), does not have health insurance. The cost of cancer treatment in this country -- with or without insurance -- is a huge burden on many families. This kind of story is not uncommon in our country: even small, routine procedures can have a huge impact on the uninsured, often resulting in extreme debt, tarnished credit history or bankruptcy.
Band The Walkmen has also decided to use their music for a cause, driving funds from album sales to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in honor of Luca Vasalla, a sick seven-month old who is very dear to the band. Their new release, You & Me, is being sold digitally for five dollars here and all proceeds are going towards Sloan Kettering--this is part of Amiestreet.com's Download to Make a Difference campaign, which offers downloads by notable artists with proceeds going to charity.
"Luca Vassallo is the seven month old son of Greg and Manal Vassallo who I have known for several years," The Walkmen's Peter Bauer told me. "Soon after his birth, they discovered that he had a form of cancer called AML leukemia. They are really fantastic people who have gone through a heck of a lot nursing him through his recovery. Luca is still in treatment now and we are thinking and about him all the time and praying he is back to full health soon. When amiestreet brought up the idea of releasing our record like this, I immediately thought of Luca and gave Greg a call. He suggested we donate the money to Sloan Kettering as he said the center there and especially the pediatric ward had done an incredible job and was a great organization."
You & Me won't be officially released until August 19th, so by purchasing the record from Amie not only do you get a sneak-peak of the album, but you get the chance to support a very worthy cause.
But music can't always cure all. While Rawls has a huge base of support behind him (visit his blog to learn more about him and other local fundraising efforts), 45 million Americans are living without insurance, most of whom don't have the musical community working to help make treatment possible. This fall, when you hit the polls, make sure to think carefully about what candidate might best steer us towards a goal of Universal Healthcare.
So please take the time to drop Merge a line and help Cy Rawls, or download the Walkman's new CD. Support music's power to change lives and galvanize passion and activism. Help music cure.