Saturday (Sept. 24), 6:30pm doors/7:30pm show, Mulligan’s on the Blue
(100 Kaukahi St., Wailea), $20 advance / $25 door
With self deprecation my river MO, peeps who read me “ramble on” often chastise, “Don’t be so hard on yourself!” While some of it’s for humor’s sake, the truth is often said in jest; and I stand firm that it’s all honestly how I feel. If my faults were salt I’d flavor the whole ocean—and it’s “nobody’s fault but mine.” Thus, it’s sometimes hard to accept good things and impossible to accept great things—and Zeptember is a more than a great thing.
Last year, my pal Scott Johnson of Dogtowne Design—who’s one of the golden hearts helming Zeptember—dropped by my office with his characteristic grin and so-cool So-Cal strut. He’d heard I was struggling with the “wearing and tearing” of leukemia bills, and wanted proceeds from Zeptember to help me out (and boy did it!). Before I knew it, I was whisked up a “stairway to heaven” into a “rock and roll” “celebration day” full of heartfelt “friends” old and new. (PS: if it isn’t yet obvious, dear readers, all these quotes are Led Zeppelin song titles, being used very literally.)
Like I said, it’s overwhelming being showered with so much love and generosity—which Zeptember doles in force—but like a waterfall-massage it helped work out some tight kinks and was incomparably refreshing.
And this may sound weird, but until Zeptember, I didn’t think cancer had changed me as much as it did. I’d chalked it up to being just another weird and wonderful experience, full of “good times [and] bad times,” not unlike everything else. In actuality, cancer changed me entirely. I didn’t die (obviously I’m not writing from the grave, though I sometimes feel—and definitely look—like it), but in a way, one life ended and another life began. This realization came somewhere in the refrain of songs sung by dozens of Maui musicians uniting to honor rock gods Led Zeppelin in a killer concert, and give a girl with a new life a chance to start off on her feet.
I might not be the best person (in fact, I might now be worse for the wear, all said and done), but every sip of human existence since diagnosis is even sweeter than the last, and I have naught but “all my love” to every single gorgeous soul involved in Zeptember who’ve tirelessly helped me through the tough times that followed recovery.
This year Zeptember’s back—even bigger and better than ever (if that’s possible). There’s a new lucky girl who’s getting a “whole lotta love:” a spirited chick with blazing gypsy eyes named Erin Fulton, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 20 (she’s now 27).
I sat down with Erin and swapped stories; and lemme tell you, the poor girl’s going through some rough times. Cancer’s caused the usual mess applicable to anyone; but I can relate with some of her woes that might be specific to women—especially young ones. She’s afraid of losing her hair (if you had long, glowing auburn locks like she does, you would be, too). She’s frustrated when she feels fine, but can’t do the things that young people do (have a few drinks, stay out late and the like); and when she’s not feeling fine, she’s learning how to admit it.
In the midst of everything, Erin’s oncologist got cancer herself—and is now on the mainland receiving treatment (which Erin notes, “says a lot about the treatment that’s available to her here”). And now, she’s without insurance.
Most striking about Erin’s story is that she’s the child of a “downwinder” family—i.e. her parents and grandparents lived in communities exposed to radioactive contamination from nuclear weapons testing in Nevada. Every single person in her family, Erin says, has or has had some form of cancer. She says her family members who could prove a direct correlation between their illnesses and the fallout received some form of compensation to help with their expenses. She, however, says because she never lived in that area herself, is ineligible.
Whew. Heavy stuff, right?
OK. Here’s the good news. Zeptember’s gonna help Erin out, and you can help, too by going to Zeptember. Best of all, it’s seriously (all biases aside) one of the best shows of the year.
Here’s the details: It’s going to be packed (that’s half the fun), so the stage (a custom Frank Rizzo creation, plus Epic lighting—and if you don’t know, Epic’s owner used to do lights for U2) is being set up mauka-side so all the doors at Mulligan’s on the Blue can stay open—letting in lots of ocean air in, and allowing the crowd to rock-out from the lawn. Sweet, right? It’s gets better.
While it’s all about helping Erin, it’s also all about the music—and the Maui musicians involved are top notch. Shawn Michael and Josh Greenbaum are back captaining the ship with bass and drums and the list’s as huge as the players’ mad skills: Joette Burke, Ryan Rego, Marci Olson, Kanoa Kukaua, Jessica Rabbit, Murray Thorne, Mary Jane Babashoff, Nils Rosenblad, Phil Ellison, Chris Sendrey, Kasi Nunez, Cheryl Rae, Jack Gist, Lia Live, Darrin Lenett, Pete Sebastian, John Carroll, Sebrina Barron, Steve Hart, Chad Kaya, Byron Townsend, Stef Lomeli, Kit Okazaki and Danyel Alana.
Whew! Oh, and I’d be remiss to not mention the KAOI Radio Group ‘ohana, particularly Ruth O’Keefe (who’s responsible for the brilliant idea in the first place!), plus the peeps from last year who’ll be off rockin’ elsewhere but are inextricable from the Zeptember heart (like friends Tom Conway and Vince Esquire). And last, but not least, mistress of ceremonies Trish “The Dish” Smith who since our meeting last Zeptember has become one of my best friends on this or any planet.
Tickets (which you’d do well to get early—loads of folks were turned away last year) are available at Westside Vibes (Lahaina), Requests (Wailuku), 808 Deli (Kihei), Mulligans On the Blue (Wailea), Colleen’s (Haiku), Maui Coffee Roasters (Kahului), and Alice in Hula land (Paia). Social media savvy can follow the Zeptember crew on Twitter @zeptemberMAUI, and aggregate concert chatter by using the hashtag #zept11.