Pulling Out the Roots

Photo by Stephen W. SmithWe know those teen years are tough. It's a time filled with uncertainty, anger and confusion, and the occasional pipe bomb. And it's a struggle. But for those in the Teen Oncology Ward at the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), just getting though the day is a struggle.

Operating under the CHOC Foundation for Children and created just a couple of months ago, the Teen Oncology Ward is a refuge of sorts for 25 to 35 cancer-stricken teens. Here they can take a breather from the seemingly endless—and exhausting—rounds of radiation and/or chemotherapy treatments.

According to CHOC spokesperson Erin Isaacs, the new ward is meant to be "a home-style environment where the cancer patients can bond with one another by playing computer and video games, watching DVDs, and just hanging out together. They can talk about their illness—or choose not talk about it and just be friends."

However much the ward may strive to provide a normal environment for its patients, though, some parts of a teen's life just aren't possible for them—like going to the school prom. Rather than accept that disappointment, though, Isaacs is hoping to organize a special prom to be held at CHOC. That is, if she can raise the money.

Upcoming Events

Enter ROCK for CHOC, a benefit concert coming Wednesday to the Grove of Anaheim. This unique rock show, presented by a philanthropic group called Legacy 19, the Grove and your very own OC Weekly not only champions a handful of local roots-rock luminaries—Billy Zoom, Big Sandy, Chris Gaffney, Kid Ramos, Deke Dickerson, the dibs and others—but also promises to showcase them in ways you've never seen before.

For starters, the Buddy Blue Band—featuring singer/songwriter/guitarist Buddy Blue (a.k.a. OC Weekly music writer Buddy Seigal), sax/keyboard player Bruce Gilbert, trumpeter Sweet Lips Mysterioso, bassist Jerry Rig and drummer Pete Bogle—will serve as the performers' house band. That means we're likely to hear the Buddy Blue Band's signature mix of jump blues, swing and roots rock during each number.

And then there are the guests of honor. Hard-working Costa Mesan Gaffney—whose Loser's Paradise (HighTone, 1995) is a masterpiece of country, Tex-Mex, rock and roots—is a superb tunesmith. Anaheim's Big Sandy (a.k.a. Robert Williams) has a velvety voice perfectly suited to his Western swing and rockabilly. Fullerton-born Kid Ramos, lead guitarist in the long-running Fabulous Thunderbirds, released one of the best collections of West Coast jump blues in recent memory with 2000's West Coast House Party (Evidence Music). As for Zoom, his low-key-yet-forceful guitar playing helped shape X in its prime.

But absent the restrictions imposed by their own bands, the guest musicians are free to experiment or just plain follow their muse. According to Blue, the silver-haired Zoom plays something like 30 instruments. So maybe he'll "just come out and decide to play the organ," he says.

"I've asked each of the guys to give me a list of songs they want to do so my band can rehearse a little bit," explains Blue. "But I have no idea what they're gonna ask me to play. And invariably we'll all jam together—God only knows what that will sound like!"

ROCK for CHOC, featuring Chris Gaffney, Kid Ramos, Big Sandy, Billy Zoom, the Buddy Blue Band and special guests, at the Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700. Wed., 8:30 p.m. $15; all proceeds benefit the Teen Oncology Ward of CHOC. All ages.

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