When Cora Tucker was two-years-old she was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma - a childhood cancer. Cora spent a year enduring surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, radiation, and a six-month long antibody treatment. During her recovery from the bone marrow transplant she and her mother Candice were practically quarantined at Levine Children’s Hospital.
“You have to be completely secluded. It doesn’t just kill the cancer, it kills everything. So it was me and her in the hospital for 45 days,” says Tucker who sings for the Charlotte rock band the Situationals. Tucker’s story seems to have a happy ending though. In May Cora, who turned 4 in January, was declared cancer free. She’ll continue to get check-ups.
“I’ve read that if you can get passed the first two years normally you’re good. We’ll do (check-ups) for four years. If we come out clean when that’s done, they consider her cured,” Tucker explains.
Sick children are sadly not uncommon, which is why local musicians will hold a benefit for Levine Children’s Hospital - the institution where Tucker spent so much time - Saturday at Neighborhood Theatre.
“So many wonderful stories like that have come to light since I started working on this,” says Justin Fedor of the band the New Familiars who spearheaded the concert which serves as a tribute to Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzerek. Manzarek died May 20.
“I actually ran into my friend, George Westberry of the band Deluge, this weekend. He lost his daughter a few years back, but they had spent some time at LCH. He expressed his deepest gratitude for the folks there. It's a special place - that hospital - winning or losing,” Fedor adds. “The staff there has a reputation of being gentle, patient, and courageous and for that we are all working to support them in any way we can.”
It wasn’t difficult to round up musicians. The lineup features New Familiars, Bums Lie, the Sammies, members of Heywire, Ancient Cities, the Funky Geezer, the Midwood Horns, Jon Lindsay, Sherman Hellville, Eric Mullis, Kodiak Brotherhood, Duk Tan, Time Sawyer, Ross Adams, and Brian Doyle & the Hamiltons. The evening promises new collaborations and twists on familiar Doors’ tunes with unDoors-like acts like solo acoustic senior Funky Geezer and the bluegrass band Time Sawyer putting a completely different spin on Jim Morrison and company’s signature tunes. Keyboardist Jason Atkins will handle Manzarek’s infamous organ parts.
The concept came from Fedor’s discussion about concert ideas with the Neighborhood Theatre’s new manager, Alex Shaw, following Manzarek’s death.
“Growing up it was my dad’s favorite band. It’s always been around the family. That’s how I realized my dad was cool,” Fedor recalls. “The Oliver Stone film came out. I remember watching it and looking at my dad like ‘This is your favorite band?’”
It wasn’t difficult to decide where the money from such a tribute should go.
“I’ve dealt with children being sick all my life,” says Fedor who lost a childhood friend to leukemia when he was 10. “I’ve had band mates and friends who’ve had to visit the Levine Children’s Hospital with their children. It’s an important thing that children are able to be taken care of.”
The concert takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday at Neighborhood Theatre. A $5 donation is recommended. Click here for more information.