"I'm halfway through a three-month chemotherapy program. It sucks all the energy out of you." To make ends meet, Phil Cole, 45, has had to liquidate.
"I have a mobile recording studio. I've had to sell a lot of studio stuff. I sold my motorcycles. I'm just trying to keep my head above water."
In the early 1990s Cole played bass in the cover band Bombay and in the all-original Jonny Quest. Most recently he has been a sound tech for Dr. Feelgood and the Interns of Love, Hot Chili, NRG, Rockola, the Soul Persuaders, and other oldies-based show bands who play the "casual" circuit, which is mostly corporate and convention gigs.
"He has cancer and it is spreading," said Kimmy Terrell of Polyester Express, who has worked with Cole for years. "He is having to sell everything he owns just to pay his mortgage."
Mitch Grant owns Special Event Audio Services and frequently hired Cole as an independent contractor.
"Because of the cost of workers' comp, I can't afford to take him or anyone else on as a salaried employee. That's just the way it is in the music business. If I took everyone as an employee, I would price myself out of business. He's like all the rest of us musicians with no health care. But we are one big family who help each other. That's what this is all about."
Grant is not optimistic about his buddy's future.
"He was misdiagnosed with kidney stones. It turned out to be transitional cell kidney cancer. It's pretty bad. It spread to his lungs and his lymph nodes. The chemotherapy is really kicking his ass.... I've done everything I can financially to support him.... I don't want to get political, but [lack of health care] is one of the biggest screwed-up things about our country."
The fundraiser for Phil Cole is this Sunday at Humphrey's Special Events Tent, with Rockola's Beatles Christmas salute at 3 p.m. followed by Eve Selis at 7 p.m. Admission is $15, $5 for kids. All proceeds go to Cole's health care.