On June 14, 2011, at Seattle, Washington’s renowned Triple Door Theater, several very special participants will be lending a hand to raise money for Gilda’s Club Seattle. In the words of Marlene Diskin (Development Director of Gilda’s Club Seattle), the aim of the Songs for June fundraiser is “to help ensure that when someone hears the words: ‘you have cancer,’ or ‘your child has cancer,’ or ‘your spouse has cancer,’ that we are here to help.” Songs for June was inspired by the memory of Gilda’s Club member June Draeger-Otis, whose family organized the event in her honor.
One of the most memorable finalists in American Idol’s 10-year history, Sanjaya Malakar, will be a featured performer at the event. Hot on the heels of his newly released single, Malakar will close the show and be accompanied by his band. Signed copies of his single, a danceable cover of the 1981 Squeeze hit “Tempted,” will be available for a donation to Gilda’s Club. And he’s not the only former Idol finalist pitching in.
The benefit will also include a silent auction during its two hour duration, featuring contributions from a variety of past Idol performers. Among these are items autographed by season five champion Taylor Hicks, as well as runners-up Bo Bice (season four), Blake Lewis (season six), and others. Taylor Hicks, who donated several hand-signed items including a copy of his 2007 memoir, said of the event, “I really hope a lot of money is raised for Gilda’s Club, it’s a great cause.”
Not limited to Idol-related memorabilia, a Seattle music legend has lent his support to the Songs for June silent auction. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic signed a few of his former band’s CD sleeves to accompany an auction package that already included tickets to Seattle’s EMP. Nivana is the subject of a large exhibit, “Taking Punk to the Masses,” at the music museum. Novoselic voiced his approval, saying it is “good to work with a non-profit,” adding that Gilda’s Club is a “nice way to remember Gilda Radner [original Saturday Night Live cast member and namesake of the organization].”
Also performing at the June 14 Songs for June benefit are RedDog and Kristin Allen-Zito. RedDog is the current project of former Velvet Underground member Doug Yule. He left rock & roll behind long ago, after singing and playing on classic albums such as The Velvet Underground (1969) and Loaded (1970). In the mid-‘70s, he worked with Beatles producer George Martin while part of the folk-rock supergroup American Flyer.
Now, as a Seattle-based violin maker, Doug Yule’s passions lie elsewhere. Along with mandolin player Cary Lung and banjo/guitarist Tom Collicott, Yule is helping to keep the musical traditions of early Appalachian bluegrass alive. RedDog’s debut album Hard Times was praised by music critic David Fricke in Rolling Stone magazine last year. Its follow-up, Nine-Tail Cat, will be released soon.
Singer-songwriter Kristin Allen-Zito has been promoting her latest album, The Atlas. Allen-Zito achieved prominence as part of the all-female indie rock band The Trucks, whose self-titled album from 2006 quickly became a cult favorite. Having toured nationally with The Trucks, Allen-Zito is back to where she began, as a solo artist singing intricately detailed songs about her life. The Atlas is laced with memorable melodies and poignant lyrics, songs from which will be performed at Songs for June.
Gilda’s Club, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was named in honor of the late comedienne and actress Gilda Radner, who died in 1989 after a long struggle with cancer. The first clubhouse opened in New York City in 1995, founded by Joanna Bull (Radner’s cancer psychotherapist) and Radner’s widower Gene Wilder. They have since expanded to 22 currently operating clubhouses in the U.S. and Canada, with additional locations in development. Their support and educational services are completely free of charge for males and females of all ages, living with all types of cancer.