Signs O’ Life
May 5, 2009

Mike McCready is a spectacular human being. The ‘singular’ proof of McCready’s humanity is not in his ability to play guitar (though, he certainly can), it’s not because one(?) of his bands has reshaped the (musical) world, not because he owns and acknowledges the disease he himself is living with (Crohn’s), not even because he apparently thinks as highly of Duff as I do (!!!), but, because ‘love is an action’ and Mike McCready is a man of action. The universe aligned itself in such a way this past weekend that I was able to get up to Seattle to see Loaded at the Showbox at the Market playing at the 7th Annual Flight to Mars CCFA (Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America) benefit show. I went to see Loaded. I left in awe of Mike McCready. Be clear, there was no doubt about McCready’s ability to play, nor, of his musical legacy when I walked in to the Showbox! I will not be getting into the legacy that is PJ as I assume most people ‘get it’ and anyone who doesn’t…I can’t help. The point is, I’ve only ever engaged with McCready by way of PJ and the Showbox show was a rawked out variation of Mike McCready-This is Your Life!

The show began with McCready taking the stage to play a couple of original acoustic songs. He was accompanied on vocals by a woman who’s name I did not catch. (Anybody?) In any case they performed beautifully. After, the acoustic performance, Shadow ’86 took the stage. Shadow consists of Mike on vocals and guitar accompanied by Rick and Chris Friel, respectively, on bass and drums. The threesome combine to offer up their very own tribute to Jimi Hendrix! Track highlights included (in no particular order) Purple Haze, All Along the Watchtower, Red House, the Star spangled Banner, and Little Wing (with Kim Virant on vocals and Ty Bailie on keyboards). Not to mention a special appearance by Stone Gossard who sang a geeked out version of David Lee Roth’s, Just Like Living in Paradise. Outstanding. While the Shadow set was chocked full of fun material delivered technically fine, what mattered most was how much fun they/he very clearly had while playing. It’s one thing as a musician to take on Hendrix’ material, by show of hands–how many of you have heard a mediocre, though technically correct Hendrix cover? Exactly. Now picture McCready playing his ass off while channeling his inner 15 year old!!! On his knees, doubled over backward, atop the barricade–guitar behind his head acting very much the part of a fool, a fool in love! Loving where he was at, what he was doing and who he was with. From their ‘rock star’ performance antics to their giggling re-start (oops) it was a joy to watch the men in Shadow engage with one another and the material. Taking nothing away from the actions of Rick and Chris, who were a riot in their own right! Mike McCready on guitar is a hell of an act!!

Crohn’s & Colitis was not on my radar before this event. While I learned a good bit of information at the show, that the benefit itself, not only supported CCFA, but, also, Camp Oasis a summer retreat for children and teens who live with Crohn’s & Colitis and Advocacy for Patients. I also learned that Crohn’s & Colitis is a kind of IBD. Yeah, you read me. Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Specifically, it was Duff’s discussion of Mike McCready as a ‘brave Man’ for stepping forward and acknowledging publicly that he suffered from Crohn’s that prompted my subsequent (largely post-show) research of the disease. What I have learned is that, specifically:

“Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines. It primarily causes ulcerations (breaks in the lining) of the small and large intestines, but can effect the digestive system anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s disease is related closely to another chronic inflammatory condition that involves only the colon called ulcerative colitis. Together, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are frequently referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have no medical cure…The disease affects approximately 500,000 to two million people in the United States. “

(Per http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/crohns-disease/what-is-crohns-disease)

The physical effects of which, include, “abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, night sweats, rectal pain and rectal bleeding.” Awkward, no? We all participate in a culture that to one extent or another, celebrates or at least considers “par for the course” the disease of addiction. That being said, there is NOTHING- Rock N’ Roll about saying, I have IBD. Unless of course, you’re Mike McCready. His onus of having a debilitating disease that he did not choose and can not cure is no less staggering than the onus of now countless others that have owned their own diseases. McCready’s going public, not to mention the 7 years of support that he has offered (speaking specifically to benefit shows here) is an act of self-love no less than it is an act of loving kindness for the hundreds of thousands who suffer with this disease . His decision to give voice, both spoken and musically, to those who are suffering and waiting and fighting for a cure to Crohn’s and Colitis is humbling and inspiring.

The ‘numbers’ for the event are not out now but we were informed during the course of the evening that the “pre-show packages” alone brought in more than $12,000.00. Over and above the pre-show the proceeds from show tickets, merchandise (Including Sick!), an on site auction and an additional auction of two guitars ( I think being hosted at http://wishlistfoundation.org/ ) in the coming weeks will constitute the nights total take.

http://www.ccfa.org/

http://www.ccfa.org/kidsteens/about_camp

http://www.advocacyforpatients.org/

OH! And, Loaded played. Details to follow…

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