Five Star Fridays: Good Guy Could Use Some Help Edition

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Since I first saw them about a year-and-a-half ago, I’ve been pretty relentless in touting Nashville band the Cold Stares here. I won’t bore you here with yet more breathless tales of their blues-rock badassery. (For breathless fanboyishness, read my Huffington Post write-up of them here.)

I think I’ve seen them about 10 times now. In that time I’ve also become friends with Chris (Tapp, the guitarist and singer) and Brian (Mullins, the drummer). What’s so impressive about these guys is that they know how incredibly good they are, but at the same time, until you’ve actually seen them on stage for the first time, you’d never know that (a) they’re musicians, and (b) they really are that damned good. The guys wear suits on stage. When they’re finished playing a show Nashville, they drive two hours back to their homes in Henderson, Kentucky. When women flirt with Tapp after a show, he tells them about his wife’s casserole. These guys are far more into music than into being musicians.

It’s been fun to watch their rise. I scan crowds when I go to see them play. You can sit at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley and watch one by one, as people who haven’t seen them before slowly come around. Earlier this year, they started working with Nashville superlawyer and music kingmaker Kent Marcus. They’re expecting the master of their first full-length, professionally produced album to be finished next week. It comes out in about six weeks. They were planning a national tour to promote it.

I saw them in Evansville, Indiana a few months ago, just across the state line from their hometown. In Nashville, they still open for other bands. They’re still winning converts. Back home, everyone is converted. The place was sold out. There was a label rep at the Evansville show. He told them he wanted to see if their live show was as good as they sounded on tape. After the show, he told them he wanted to make their recordings sound more like their live show. Watching the steady of success of these two genuine guys, playing original no bullshit, straight-on blues rock, well, it was a beautiful thing to witness.

And then. This week. Well, bloody hell: On Monday, Chris Tapp put up a status update on Facebook that he has cancer.

He’s facing some tough odds. As he explains it, he had some spots removed from his back in 2009. Lab tests for melanoma came back clean. He has since discovered that the lab reports were wrong. Someone fucked up. Which means  that over the last few years, as Tapp and Mullins have been winning battle of the bands competitions, blowing headline bands off the stage, and rattling bar glasses around Nasvhille, as they’ve inched their way to the brink of breaking through, the entire time, cancer has been growing in Tapp, dropping a smothering shroud on all of this just a few weeks before it was about to blow up.

(A little side note: The outpouring of support for Tapp on the band’s Facebook pages is enough to make you forget about all the company’s negative press in recent weeks. Facebook is perfect for this sort of thing. Tapp’s been posting test results shortly after he gets them, at which point he’s smothered with encouragement and expressions of faith from friends, family, and fans.)

Awful as this is for those of us who know and like Chris, for Cold Stares fans eager to see more from him and Brian, none of that is nearly as important as this: The guy has a wife and two kids. Ages 10 and 5.

I’m a writer. Words are how I make my living. And I guess this is the part where I run out of words.

If you’ve become a fan of the band through this site, you might take a minute to send Chris some encouragement, either on his Facebook page, or via email. That’s the point of this post. Give him some support. Chris is a devout Christian, so if that’s your bag, send some prayer his way.

There’s a bit more, too. Over the last ten years, I’ve built a pretty nice platform with this blog. We have a core community of loyal and regular readers here. I hope y’all don’t mind if I exploit that a bit for a friend who could use some help. As I mentioned, Chris is facing long odds. But not impossible odds. But his treatment will be expensive. The way I see it, the last thing he ought to worry about over the coming months is his family’s financial security and his kids’ future. So we’re working on setting up a fund to help with his medical bills, his day to day bills, and whatever other expenses that may come up. I don’t know what sort of fundraising ability this blog has, but to the extent we can help, I’d like to try.

I’ll let you know how you can help once the fund is up and running. This was my idea, by the way. Chris has signed off (reluctantly, I would guess), but he didn’t suggest it. Nor would he, from what I know of him.

The Nashville music community has a nice history of rallying around musicians in Chris’s situation. So we’re also looking into the possibility of some sort of benefit concert. So if you’re in the music industry, or live here in Nashville and think there’s some way you can help, let me know in the comments, or drop me an email.

Finally, I should add that Chris is pretty adamant about welcoming encouragement, but not pity. In an email, he writes: “I’m going to survive, and when we come back musically it’s going to be an extremely powerful event.”

They committed months ago to play my book release party—which I’m hoping will be next spring. As I wrote in an email to him, that gives him about a year to kick this thing in the ass, and then get back into playing shape.

It is Friday, so it seems right to keep with tradition here, and end this post with some music.






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13 Responses to “Five Star Fridays: Good Guy Could Use Some Help Edition”

  1. #1 |  David McElroy | 

    I can really sympathize with the way he feels. I discovered a lump in my breast around Christmas and had surgery on Jan. 30. It’s very difficult for anyone to understand the loneliness and fear that can come with news that something inside your own body might be killing you.

    I wish Chris Tapp all the luck in the world in fighting the disease, but even more than that, I wish him comfort in a struggle that few people can understand. I’ll be praying for him. Thanks for relating his story to us.

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    Chris is a class act with some serious talent. I’ve enjoyed following along, watching them grow. When you get the fundraiser figured out, I’m in.

  3. #3 |  mark | 

    I wish your friend the very best. It won’t help as quickly as your kind fundraising help, but Chris also needs a good local lawyer who specializes in this area. If there was in fact malpractice by lab/radiologist, someone’s insurance company should and will pay Chris’ medical expenses plus related damages.

    The process may take awhile but as my dad likes to say, you can’t start any sooner than now.

  4. #4 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Please, please, please keep us posted, particularly if you can set up some kind of fund. My financial situation is about to take a turn for the better, but about to and has are two different things. Still, God willing and the crick don’t rise, in a few months I will be in a position to do something more concrete than just sympathize.

  5. #5 |  mgd | 

    I’m in once you get the fundraiser going. Chris has got some serious pipes. I’ve really enjoyed watching the band through your updates and have been looking forward to their first full album. Do keep us posted.

  6. #6 |  Ginnie Pruitt | 

    Sign me and my husband up for any leg work that needs to be done on getting this up and running. We have known the guys for less than a year, and they have already impacted our lives more than they know. We will do whatever it takes.

  7. #7 |  Laben | 

    This is awesome of you, Radley. Because of you I have become a very big fan of these guys. I am a very poor fella, but I will throw some dough at Chris in hopes that he can make it through this very fucked up situation. Nothing sucks more than starting to have shit really come together for you and then get hit with a bomb like this. Truly unfair. Let’s hope he can pull through and continue to make that bad ass low-tuned blues the Cold Stares can bring to the masses.

  8. #8 |  Linda | 

    Sounds like you have some good ideas to make a difference. The benefit concert sounds like a really good plan.

  9. #9 |  crzyb0b | 

    I know a great way to make a difference: support comprehensive health care reform.

  10. #10 |  Kate Richardson | 

    Well said my friend! Beautiful feature on Chris!

  11. #11 |  Update on Chris Tapp | The Agitator | 

    […] I’ve had some email and comment requests for an update on Cold Stares singer/guitarist Chris Tapp. (See here.) […]

  12. #12 |  News on the Chris Tapp Benefit | The Agitator | 

    […] told you I’d keep you posted on the benefit show we’re putting together for Cold Stares singer/guitarist Chris Tapp. Here’s the […]

  13. #13 |  Chris Tapp Benefit: This Thursday Night | The Agitator | 

    […] background on all of this here. My Huffington Post profile of the Cold Stares here. Digg it |  reddit |  […]