Friday, June 17, 2005

Free Willie!

I don't know how many of you readers share my passion for the music of Austin songwriter Jon Dee Graham, but I find his songwriting so compelling, so passionate, and so adult that I try to go see him every chance I get, either by himself or with his stuperstar companions the Resentments. There's just something about his stage presence and quiet wit that is endlessly entertaining and thought-provoking. It was at a Resentments gig here about a year and a half ago that I finally decided to move to France, and at the one I saw in Austin this March, there was a hilarious bit where Jon Dee's son, Willie, came up to the stage to request that his dad do "Big Sweet Life," one of his best songs.

Willie's been a presence on Jon Dee's albums for as long as he's been solo. As I understand it, it was Willie who suggested that the first album be called Escape From Monster Island, which it is, although there's no song by that name or with that theme anywhere on the disc. Like many Austin father-musicians, Jon Dee also arranges touring schedules around his family's needs, and shows up at a lot of the Dads Who Rock shows.

So I was horrified to read yesterday, in an e-mail from my pal M, that Willie's got a problem. I'll turn the floor over to her:

Here's what I found about the benefit on June 24 at the Continental and Saxon; donation info is below:

Jon Dee Graham's son Willie has developed Legg Perthes, a rare childhood form of avascular necrosis of the hip. For reasons unknown, the head of the femur loses its blood circulation and dies. The Graham family lost insurance coverage when their insurance provider filed Chapter 11. Now Willie's condition is considered pre-existing by other companies, making him uninsurable. They may be looking at several years of treatment, physical therapy and surgery.

The music community is responding with a benefit on Friday, June 24 at The Continental Club. Doors open at 6pm and the show begins at 6:30pm with The Resentments, Matt The Electrician & Beaver Nelson, Walter Tragert, Troy Campbell, Kathy McCarty, Steve Poltz, Bob Schneider, Shawn Colvin, The New Hot Damn (Trish Murphy, Kacy Crowley, Renee Woodward, Honky, Ian McLagan & The Bump Band, James McMurtry, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Alejandro Escovedo & Charlie Sexton & Jon Dee Graham in that order.

The evening will be recorded by Oscar & Grammy-winning engineer/producer Chet Himes for a benefit CD to be released by Freedom Records.

A silent auction will also take place that evening from 6 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. in the space formerly occupied by Gomi at 1313 S. Congress, next door to The Continental Club and upstairs from Southside Tattoos.

There will be a companion benefit at the Saxon Pub on the same night, with Steve Poltz, The Skunks, Standing Waves, Stephen Bruton and more to be confirmed!

Can't make it to the show, but still want to help out? Contributions can be made payable to the Willie Graham Legg Perthes Fund and mailed to: The Willie Graham Legg Perthes Fund, c/o RajiWorld, 1810 Airole Way, Austin TX 78704.

A PayPal account has been set up now, so if you have PayPal you can make an online donation using the payment address of A clickable PayPal icon will soon be available at Jon Dee, and our website. Advance tickets will go on sale at The Continental Club and Waterloo Records on Wednesday, June 14. The tickets
will be $25 in advance and $30 at the door.


As of today, the PayPal address is going to change, but if you go to Jon Dee's website, which I linked to above, there's more up-to-date info available.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: one thing the Europeans recognize that Americans can't seem to get their brains around is that health care is a right, not a privilege. It's tragic that Willie Graham has to find this out at this particular moment in his life, but thanks to the PayPal address, we can all make a small contribution to help. I'm going to, not only to help out one of my favorite performers, but because stories like this PISS ME OFF.

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