Billy Block has been a champion for songwriters for a long time. The founder of Western Beat, along with Wendy Waldman and Brad Parker, he impacted the lives of songwriters here in L.A. before moving to Nashville, where it became an institution. A longtime radio host, event emcee, session drummer and tireless advocate for songwriters and struggling musicians, he announced that he has cancer.
Now his friends in Los Angeles, led by Brad Parker, are uniting to champion Billy, with a concert to raise money for the Billy Block Family Fund this Thursday night, April 10 at the Musician’s Institute: 1655 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood, California.
Tickets are still available for the show here at Eventbrite.
For those out of town who want to make a donation, you can also do it here.
The amount of great artists who said yes to Brad when asked to perform in this show is proof of Billy’s great impact on this community. They include yours truly – and I am going to help host as well – and Wendy Waldman, Freebo, Jack Tempchin, Stephen Bishop, The Radical Poets with Brad Parker & David Parker, Ed Tree & Taras Prodaniuk, Dan Navarro, Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps, Karen Tobin, Ed Berghoff, Rick Shea, Bliss Bowen, John Stowers, Marty Axelrod, Jamie Houston,Phil Parlapiano, Maia Sharp, Randy Sharp, Lawrence Lebo, Matt Cartsonis, Jenny Yates, Paul Zollo, Kevin Fisher, Eddie Cunningham, Mark Islam, John Cate, Lois Blaisch, Steven McClintock, The Zydeco Party Band w/Doug Lacy, Mark Shark & more.
Billy went public with the diagnosis in a letter to friends and family written by his wife, Jill.
“Many of you already know that we have had some rough news this holiday,” she wrote. “My sweet husband, soulmate, father to my boys and very best friend has been diagnosed with stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma. After only a chest scan, his cancer is in his lymph nodes, spleen and liver. He is starting a clinical trial here in Nashville this month that is promising and gives us hope. …
“Billy is not in any pain yet and the cancer was discovered when he went to his doctor for bronchitis a couple of weeks ago. If the treatment here is not getting the results we hope for, we have an open door at [University of Texas] MD Anderson to pursue more aggressive therapy.”
Jill Block goes on to write that, due to surgeries from previous bouts with melanoma, her husband is not eligible for disability insurance. The family has thus established the Billy Block Family Fund at Wells Fargo Bank, encouraging well-wishing family members, friends and fans to donate.
“[Billy’s] a bit of an alchemist, and demonstrates the triumph of will and good intention,” said the legendary Rodney Crowell. “He’s supported a lot of underdog artists. He’s given them a forum onstage and on his radio show.”
Billy Block addressed friends on Facebook Dec. 31: “It is my only and focused resolution this year to show my family, friends and especially my kids how undeniable faith, powerful will and heroic courage can create victory over cancer,” he said. “Thankfully I will be able to continue to work, play music, produce shows and lead as close to normal a life as possible while focused on the path to wellness.”
Those wanting to make donations to the Billy Block Fund can make donations as a gift at any Wells Fargo branch office or mail checks (payable to Wells Fargo; attention Bradley Gallimore or Danielle Lares-Bouharoun) to Wells Fargo Private Bank, 3100 West End Ave., One American Center, Suite 550, Nashville, TN 37203.
The Concert for Billy
April 10, 2014 7pm
The Musician’s Institute
1655 N. McCadden Place