Sunday, February 24, 2008

2008-0223 Memphis Gold at Home

Last night I visited Chester Chandler, aka Memphis Gold, at his Arlington, Virginia apartment along with his wife Barbara and some of his family. While there was a wheelchair in the unit, there was a walker and shoes with plastic braces. He remains a person with boundless optimism and glad to be alive although he has a long time to go in his recovery. He has no feeling in his feet, and his muscles in the back of the legs have atrophied, hopefully the rehabilitation will get them back again.

Barbara mentioned the staggering hospital bills, and the lack of insurance. The accident came when he was assisting a friend so no workmen's compensation is available and Barbara is fighting DC's termination of her health insurance which would have covered most of the expenses. The Grammy's Music Cares program has provided assistance and the DC Blues Society's benefit on February 9 raised over $2000, but so much more remains. Another benefit will be held by the Baltimore Blues Society on March 16 and I will post more details separately. He intends to be there and play.

Memphis Gold is still playing music. Before leaving the rehabilitation hospital in Baltimore he gave a performance for the staff. other parents and families. He has been recording music prior to the accident including acoustic sessions with Robert Lighthouse and Charlie Sayles, and full band sessions. One song he played for me was the lively "Gator is Gonna Bite You" which Rich 'The Gator' Bolling has been playing on WPFW. Its a fun, funky number that is full of the infectious joy he brings to his performances.

We also watched performances from a DVD compiled from video taken at the benefit show, laughing and enjoying so many memorable moments. Once again he was very enthusiastic about Mike Westcott who had a great rocking rendition of Wolf's "44 Blues." Other benefits are planned, and I look forward to seeing him performing very soon.

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