Benefit show for ailing Cloud Minder guitarist.
Dave Sommer has had one hell of a year.
Around Thanksgiving last year, the then-27-year-old guitarist from Cloud Minder started noticing headaches and occasional blurred vision. Sommer, a graduate student at Temple in eastern philosophy and former PW intern, at first thought he might just be stressed. But as the symptoms continued – and worsened – he went to a doctor. Testing confirmed the worst possible scenario, a brain tumor, which, when removed last March measured over three inches in diameter and weighed more than three pounds. The cancer re-appeared in June, and Sommer had another operation early in August. As of early December, his doctors found that it had come back again for a third time.
Sommer has documented his entire struggle in a blog called Goliath and I, a heartbreaking record of hope and disappointment. Amid details about treatments, side effects and setbacks, Sommer slips in photos of his niece, a top ten list of 1980s horror movies, cartoons and other observations on daily life. He is extraordinarily brave and positive most of the time.
After his first surgery, he noted that, “The fact that I've come out of this so similar to the way I waltzed in--as a fully feeling human being--is frankly astounding. I don't know who to thank or how, but I feel like I've just won an award for living and it guarantees me a new lease on life. The only problem is that now I have to live with a new lease every waking moment. I can't slip up and get jaded and bored like I did before; that just doesn't seem right--at all. Of course I'll have bad days where I feel next to terrible, but I can't let myself fall into the pit of darkness that I emerged from in late December. It just wouldn't be fair to myself.”
Sommer has health insurance, but it doesn’t cover many of the experimental treatments his doctors are recommending. He and his family are facing astronomical bills. To help, Anthropic Records and Village Green Productions have put together a benefit show on December 18 at the M Room. Adam and Dave’s Bloodline, Monolith, Controlled Storms, Grammar Debate and Imperfect Silence (Cloud Minder’s Evan Madden, Bob Stokes and Jason Baron) are all on the bill. Proceeds are going towards Sommer’s medical costs.
Anthropic Records is also offering donate-what-you-want digital downloads of Cloud Minders debut album The Territory of the Contract is the Universe. One hundred percent of the donations go to Sommer and his family.
Bob Stokes, who plays bass in Cloud Minder, says he’s known Sommer since the guitarist answered a classified ad calling for a drummer. “He came to audition with his guitar,” says Stokes. “He said, I can play drums okay, but I really play guitar.” Stokes and guitarist Jason Baron jammed with him for a while, and he was in.
Steve Surgalski from Controlled Storms says that Sommer helped his band early on, booking them on his shows and introducing them to like-minded, all-instrumental bands. He remembers seeing Sommer battle an errant guitar strap during one performance at the Khyber. “He was holding his guitar for most of the set, but he never missed a beat. Not one ounce of fury was sacrificed. It was inspiring to see such dedication to sound and tackling each minute as it came.”
Now as Sommer fights another adversary, he continues to live in the moment – and to win the admiration of friends and fellow musicians. “Dave is a swell guy, and he’s had the worst year anyone could ever have,” says Stokes. “Everyone’s volunteered their time – the bands, the sound guys, the people at the door – so that all the money can go towards Dave. So if you can come and pay $10 or $5 or even a couple of bucks, drop by.”
PW's Music Issue 2014