If you have been following my column for the past few weeks, you will notice a trend. Yes, naturally we always discuss some element of music week to week, but there has been a tie to people coming together in times of need. We’ve touched on Rock For Landon, and now it’s time to bring another cause and event that needs your attention. I want to talk about an event that is happening in the near future right in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Upon receiving information on this event, I knew immediately I had to put it out there, as the cause is very near and dear to my heart. As many of you may or may not know, September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month. If you have a loved one, or ever had a loved one suffer from any sort of illness, you know the effect it can have on you not only personally, but financially. We received a letter recently from a New Jersey native named Lee Shapiro, who wanted to bring this event to our attention. Well Lee, your words were heard, loud and clear, and I am here to do just that!
Just to brief you a bit on Lee, he was “Frankie Valli’s Music Director during the 1970s, responsible for arranging, recording, and touring hits like ‘Who Loves You’ and ‘Oh What A Night’”. I am sure people of all ages know these songs, as they are classics! He is a Jersey-born man who still resides in Hackensack, NJ. Lee let us know that roughly seven years ago, he put together a local band called The Hit Men, which is compiled of some of his greatest friends and known musicians. In his own words, “Together we have over 85 Gold records and international tours with Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons, Tommy James & The Shondells, Alan Parsons, 3 Dog Night, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, Carole King, and more. The Hit Men started out playing local restaurants and bars, but we are now putting on shows at major performing arts centers, casinos and events around the country.”
Now, here is where the heavy stuff sets in. One of his bandmates, Larry Gates, who is a lifelong friend and supporter of over 50 years, has been fighting a battle of a rare form of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. If you are unfamiliar with this disease, look it up, and help spread awareness. Nothing will slow Larry down, however, as he continues to go out on tour, performing on the weekends in between his medical treatments, including a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy. I don’t even know this man, but I respect his perseverance and fight more than he could ever imagine.
Here is how you can help: On Sept. 10, they are putting together a benefit concert at one of my favorite venues, the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey, to help raise awareness for this disease. Not only will this benefit Larry, but it will also help raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, which is “the world’s premier organization seeking to find a cure”.
If you are able to attend, more information and tickets can be found at themmrf.org/thehitmen, or you can purchase tickets directly from the Count Basie Theatre box office. You can also find additional details at thehitmenlive.com and facebook.com/thehitmenlive. Every little bit helps, so please spread the word, support Larry, and Blood Cancer Awareness Month. We are all fighting for you Larry, from near and far! This goes out to anyone who is battling an illness, or lost a loved one, help where you can.