Brian Barrabee, bassist for the Long and Short of It, is paralyzed from the chest down. He's been in a wheelchair since May 2004, the victim of a hotel-room accident. He explains how he was recently burned in a Modesto hotel room.
"I wasn't paying attention. The bathtub filled up with boiling water. By the time I noticed, I saw my feet were really red. I had third-degree burns.... I knew by reading the Web that my life was not in danger and that I didn't have to go to the hospital. We found out you shouldn't use ice, that you should use cold water and then wrap [the burned area] up in this cream wound protector and gauze."
Barrabee says he went to the emergency room after their Arcata show. The incident did not interrupt his band's 15-city tour.
"We never came across a venue that was hard to access. We played upstairs in Santa Cruz, but it was totally wheelchair accessible.... I understand the novelty of this, but I don't want this to be a part of our identity as a band. We're doing everything now that we would have done before the accident except I sit down when I play instead of standing up....
"There is one guy who does a one-man act in a wheelchair. But I'm the only guy I know of in a wheelchair who goes out and tours with a band.... There is no way I could do this without the help and support of my bandmates. But I don't even think about it anymore. They fixed up the van so I could get in and out easily. I don't think about it at all when I'm playing...."
The current band lineup (Barrabee, vocalist Ben Johnson, drummer Tim Johnson, and guitarist Matt Strachota) has been the same for three years.
Barrabee, who used to work in the food industry, no longer holds down a day job. He books shows for the band. Does he expect to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life?
"That won't change unless someone else gets elected in the White House."
The Long and Short of It appears August 4 at the Zombie Lounge.