Watching guitarist Danny Rhodes perform, one immediately senses his passion and love of music.
Known for his blistering guitar work and honest songwriting that touches the soul, it's no wonder the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame inducted this guitar virtuoso.
Danny's world turned upside down in early September when his doctor told him he has stomach cancer. The good news is it's operable. The bad news is treatment is costly, insurance deductibles are high, and soon his energy will be sapped as he embarks on the long battle against cancer.
On Sept. 24 he began an aggressive treatment plan that includes daily medication and chemotherapy in Sedona to be followed by surgery and more chemo.
Friends and fellow musicians seem just as shocked as Danny, 57, to learn this dreaded disease is attacking his body.
Typical of his easy-going style, Danny takes the life-changing news in stride.
"I'm not dead and I plan on fighting as long as it takes to win," he says from his Cottonwood home.
Fans will be glad to hear it.
Acting on the news, Danny's longtime friend and keyboardist JD Duncan immediately shifted into high gear and began staging benefit concerts to raise money for his ailing band mate. The first such event was Sept. 30.
Organizing events and helping others comes naturally for JD. For years he has custom-tailored bands for corporate and nonprofit events. Like Danny, he's also a staple within the Verde Valley and Sedona music scene.
"I believe in giving. It makes me feel good to help," says JD of his quick action. "I'm merely a facilitator to bring people together. It's all about Danny and helping him offset the costs."
JD's idea to organize benefits for him didn't surprise Danny.
"I'm just surprised it happened so quickly," he reflects. "He was thinking farther ahead than I was."
Mark your calendar for the next big benefit, "12 Hours for Danny," to be held Sunday, Oct. 7, from noon to midnight at Relics Restaurant. An all-star lineup featuring over 120 musicians is expected with all proceeds going toward Danny's mounting medical expenses. Relics owner Joe DeSalvo also has offered to donate a portion of Sunday's bar profits.
In addition to the music, there'll be live and silent auctions and a soon-to-be announced online auction. Donations have been pouring in. Items up for auction include fine art and jewelry, resort vacation packages, golf outings, gift certificates to upscale restaurants, health services and a variety of local businesses. Look for fine wines available only online.
Entertainment will take place on two stages, one inside and one out, with the last band performing at 10:45 p.m. followed by a jam session inside. All are welcome to sit in.
The lineup reads like a Who's Who of Arizona musicians. Those donating their time include fellow Arizona Blues Hall of Famer Big Pete Pearson, Hans Olson, Tommy Dukes, Limbs Akimbo, Major Lingo, Mike Reeves Band, Neon Raiders, The Retros, The Z Band, 4 Wheels Down, Caaz Jazz, Sammy Davis, Sunny Heartley, Eric Miller, Robin Miller, Radio Dogma, The Spokes, Stonewall Band, Nathan & Jason, Patrick Ki, Näthan & Friends, Alan James Band, Greg Aitken, Susannah Martin, Chris Livas, The Spokes, Uncle Marc, Jackson-Jones Jazz Quartet, among others.
Guitarist Mike Reeves, who's never met Danny, jumped at the chance to help. He's sought donations from local businesses and during his shows he encourages fans to contribute to the jars located at various local bars to benefit Danny and his family.
"I want to do this," says Mike. "He's good people and I want to help out any way I can."
This unprecedented positive response from the community has left Danny almost speechless.
"I'm flabbergasted at all the outpouring of good wishes and generosity and love of my friends," he notes while resting at home.
Beginning Oct. 14, a series of Sunday performances will follow through December. Suggested donation per event is $10. All concerts will be held at Relics Restaurant and Nightclub at Rainbow's End, 3235 W. 89A, in Sedona. 282-1593.
Those unable to attend the concerts but would like to help can deposit donations for Danny directly to the Danny Rhodes Benefit account at any Bank of America branch. For additional information or to donate items for the auctions, call JD Duncan at (928) 634-0629. To read more about Danny or to buy his CDs, visit www.dannyrhodes.com.
While coordinating these events has been time-consuming, it's also been easy because everyone wants to help, JD says.
"Everyone's stepping up to the plate because Danny's loved. He's really loved and respected."
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