Blues for Brenda
The 44's, members of Los Lobos, Kid Ramos, James Harman, Rod Piazza, Johnny Mastro and more rally for benefit concert Friday
By Bliss Bowen 04/20/2012
“Survivors. That’s a strong word I want to emphasize.”
44’s frontman Johnny Mains is talking about his mom, Brenda, who survived a double mastectomy and was declared “cancer free” by doctors only to have the disease return. “Her insurance canceled on her,” Mains says. “It’s really been a rough few years here, so everyone’s coming together to help her pay for her chemo treatment and meds. It’s not as cheap as people think it is.”
“Everyone” includes Mains, ex-Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Kid Ramos, Los Lobos members David Hidalgo, Conrad Lozano and Cesar Rojas, plus James Harman, Rod Piazza and Henry Carvajal, Jason Ricci, Gino Matteo, Chef Dennis, John Clifton, Johnny Mastro & Smokehouse — all will play the Blues for Brenda benefit at Nick’s Taste of Texas Friday night. Show details were still being finalized at press time, but Mains says they will be auctioning off signed guitars and artwork, and that 20 percent of food sales from the night will be donated to his mother’s fund.
Also scheduled to be in the house Friday: a handful of breast cancer survivors. To Mains, their presence is key.
“They give my mom positive reinforcement,” he says. “It’s a night of musicians showing huge support, but it’s also about putting the word out about cancer and how it affects people’s lives. We’re trying to keep a positive outlook on things.”
The timing is tricky, as Rip Cat Records is releasing the 44’s album “Americana” this week and the band is preparing for Midwest and European tours. Mains says he was fielding calls and Facebook messages from artists offering to help while he was on the road.
“I didn’t really expect this, to be honest with you. I’ve been doing music for such a long time and I’ve played with great players, but I didn’t think everyone would be willing to donate their time, especially on a Friday night. A lot of these guys are gigging. Kid Ramos is gonna be the stage manager — how cool is that?
“I don’t have a lot of money; I’m a musician, I’m getting by and getting my family by, but I’m just blown away that all these guys are coming together to help us out. That means a huge amount to me.”
Blues for Brenda with performances by the 44’s and Kid Ramos; David Hidalgo, Conrad Lozano and Cesar Rosas from Los Lobos; James Harman; Rod Piazza with Henry Carvajal; Randy Chortkoff; Jason Ricci; Chef Dennis; Tommy Harkenrider; Lisa Cee; Ron Felton; Johnny Mastro and Smokehouse and more kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, April 20 (doors open at 6 p.m.) at Nick’s Taste of Texas, 545 N. Citrus Ave., Covina. Tickets are $20 advance/$25 at the door/$40 VIP. Info: 331-2824. The44sband.com