POSTED ON NOVEMBER 23, 2011:
Cancer Sucks! continues the fight against cancer with its 7th annual concert to help find a cure
As we all realize, Thanksgiving is finally upon us and that brings all the standard traditions: family time, turkey until we're miserable, and a weekend of football. Once we're ready to escape family or just get out of the house, however, there are a few local traditions that have come to define the weekend in Tulsa as well, and they extend beyond the Christmas lights at Utica Square and Rhema.
Jason Boland's annual "Leftover Turkey" show at Cain's on Friday night has become one that plenty of people look forward to, but while it's always a good time for Red dirt fans, it has less of a long term impact.
Packing even more punch is the Saturday night event at the Ballroom, the annual Cancer Sucks! concert. Now in its 7th year, the concert has become an annual highlight event for the charity that is based right here in Tulsa and it continues to grow year after year.
If you aren't already familiar, the charity was founded by brothers Rick Horton and Rick White 1998 after losing their mother to cancer in 1998. By following their mother's lead, who donated her body for research to find a cure, the two brothers founded Cancer Sucks! as a living, active memorial to their mother with a focus on raising money for cancer research and to help find a cure. In Horton's own words, "This was the best we could do to follow the example she set for us."
Created as a non-profit, 501c(3) charity with no paid employees or salaries, all proceeds from Cancer Sucks! events are donated directly to cancer research foundations. After starting out as a t-shirt design, Cancer Sucks has grown into a full-blown organization that either holds or attends a number of events each year, from car and bike shows to golf tournaments to what has become the year's highlight: participation in the annual "Shiprocked" cruise with a silent auction of rock memorabilia (Which Horton attended last week), followed by the annual Cancer Sucks! concert.
Since being founded in 1998, Cancer Sucks! has donated over $500,000 to cancer research, with the annual numbers growing each year. Last year, the organization donated over $90,000 with 2010 being capped off by the Thanksgiving weekend concert headlined by Aranda and Taddy Porter, both of which are Oklahoma based but had been touring nationally.
This year, the Cancer Sucks! concert continues to grow, picking up a major acts to headline the show with a pair of touring partners and matching them up a handful of local favorites for what promises to be the biggest and most successful even yet. Over the past two years, this show has seen roughly 1,000 in attendance and this year has the potential to sell out and make an even bigger impact.
Tickets are only $10 and as in years past, there will also be a silent auction of items ranging from rock memorabilia to concert packages and sporting event tickets, with all proceeds donated to research charities. I could go on about all of the great work Cancer Sucks! has done in the past and continues to do, but the best way you can help this weekend is by attending.
And why should you attend, you ask? Just check out this lineup: After doors open at 5:30pm, the evening begins with Promo Dave & the Haters at 5:45pm, followed by Dustin Pittsley Band at 6:30pm. The evening then takes a hard rock turn with Firstryke at 7:15pm and Sweatin' Bullets at 8pm, before moving to the nationally touring acts with New Medicine at 8:45pm, followed by Empahtic at 9:40pm.
The night's headliner, Art of Dying, is wrapping up a big year, having released its sophomore album (and major label debut) on Intoxication Records -- the imprint label of Disturbed's David Draiman and Dan Doenegan, with distribution via Reprise Records. Lead single, "Die Trying" grabbed immediate attention at radio and peaked out at No. 5 on the Active Rock charts over the summer, following the CD's release in March of this year.
The rest of the year has been followed by heavy touring, seeing the band play venues of every size, hitting theaters and arenas on a spring run with the Avalanche Tour (which saw the band play Brady Theater earlier this year) and a late summer/early fall tour of amphitheaters as part of the Uproar Festival. Over the past month, Art of Dying has been touring with Empahtic and New Medicine as direct support for Adelita's Way in large and mid-sized clubs.
When discussing the year and the difference in venues with founding guitarist Greg Bradley, he admitted "Personally, I love to play the big arenas. I grew up going to arena shows and always wanted to do that, so it feels like it was just supposed to happen."
"As a band, we love to play the bigger stage because we like to go crazy and move around a lot, using the stage as much as possible," he continued. "When we go back to the clubs and smaller stages, it's a little different for us because we don't have as much room to move around, but it can be really great because it's a much more intimate performance that lets us connect with the fans."
One listen to the band's current CD, Vices and Virtues, makes it apparent that this band was designed for larger stages. Even the ballads on the disc, like "I Will Be There" soar with big, anthemic choruses and huge guitar sounds.
"I think it just comes across naturally," Bradley said. "Our big influences were from the grunge era, but they were all playing arenas too. Of course, we love Guns 'n' Roses and Zeppelin and Aerosmith -- all kinds of rock, so we've all dreamed of playing arenas."
On the more contemporary side, Bradley admitted that Art of Dying has taken its fair share of cues and inspiration from fellow Canadian act, Nickelback. "We were inspired by their success and how they achieved it," he said. "The big thing was watching it happen from our perspective and seeing that it is a real possibility to get that big. Regardless of what you think of the band or its music, you can't deny that they've been incredibly successful and that showed us you can be a Canadian band starting from scratch and achieve that, so they've been a huge inspiration."
The band's second single, "Get Thru This" is still climbing the charts and gaining airplay on active rock stations like our own KMOD as the band continues to tour through the end of the year. That song is also the touchstone that makes Art of Dying an apropos headliner for the Cancer Sucks! concert, as it was written about the fight with cancer.
"Jonny's (Hetherington, lead singer) father was diagnosed with cancer a few years back and that was his way of dealing with the immediate feelings he was going through when he found out. It was literally written in about five minutes as he just let his feelings come out."
"I guess that kind makes this an appropriate show for us," Bradley added. "That song has a universal appeal for people who are dealing with or going through whatever in their lives -- from cancer to addictions, to all kinds of other things. We've heard back from our fans that 'that song helped me get through...', so it's been pretty cool for us."
It's pretty obvious that Art of Dying is headed for bigger venues over the long haul, so the band's return to Tulsa this weekend to play Cain's Ballroom and take part in the Cancer Sucks! benefit show, makes it a great opportunity to catch them in a smaller venue and at a great bargain, as well. Tickets are only $10, with all proceeds going to cancer research. Doors open at 5:30pm with a full evening of rock for a good cause and tribute to Donna Holland White, as well as the many others who have fought with cancer. Show up and do your part.
Thanksgiving is here and while some people have skipped town to visit family, many others have come in to see theirs, which still makes it a great weekend to get out and support local music. Being it's a holiday, I'm going to skip Thanksgiving, but if you've had enough of being locked inside with family and football and need a break and your live music fix, you can rest assured there will still be cold drinks and cool music flowing at most of your favorite clubs around town (like The Colony) and even the weekly Robotic dance party at IDL Ballroom is still going on, so you can start your weekend early instead of laying dormant.
• Friday, Nov. 25 -- The big show of the night is the previously mentioned "Leftover Turkey" with Jason Boland & the Stragglers at Cain's Ballroom. Turnpike Troubadours open the show, so you'd better grab your tickets fast because it should sell out. Afterwards, wander down the street for the after-party with Brandon Clark Band at Hunt Club. For something different, DJ Soulfingaz will be spinning at Soundpony, Grazzcrack will be playing Mercury Lounge and Panda Resistance will keep The Colony grooving.
• Saturday, Nov. 26 -- The big show of the night is obviously the Cancer Sucks! benefit at Cain's Ballroom. Downtown Lounge covers the rock crowd with Ill Fated and The Loaded Dice while Crystal Pistol has the best indie rock show of the week with Chrome Pony and an all-too-rare Refund Division performance. Wink Burcham is a staple at The Colony, but this will be a special night as he splits the stage with John Fullbright, who doesn't make it to Tulsa nearly often enough. Elsewhere around town, Jimmy Blythe finally plays at Woody's, Able and the Allies are at Treehouse and I'm planning on ending my rounds with The Damn Quails at Mercury Lounge.
• Sunday, Nov. 27 -- Undoubtedly, most people will be winding down and preparing to head back to work after a long weekend, but you can still enjoy a great night of music with Mountain Sprout and Split Lip Rayfield at Cain's Ballroom or Rebecca Ungerman playing an earlier evening lounge gig at Bodean's Seafood in South Tulsa.
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