David Alston played bass guitar in Monsonia from 2003 through 2005. He helped shape our early songs and played on our first recordings. He also played about twenty shows with us – mostly locally, but also back when we would cut out of town on the weekend – to such exotic locales as Wilmington and Richmond. His last show with the band was in NYC – on what was admittedly more of a fun what-the-hell road trip than a tour.
In mid-August of 2005, towards the end of his time with the band, we were invited to play Ross Grady’s Local Music radio show on WXDU 88.7 Durham. We’ve played the show a couple of times and have had fun and helpful experiences. We played a few songs on this particular set that we have not released. Two were new – written with David after we recorded our EP. Two others were even older songs that we played in these early shows but never recorded in a studio. These old songs were actually both on our original demo (which very few people heard), but they evolved over time as we played them together. These songs did not withstand the transitions we would go through in the coming months, to stay in our repertoire, but we’re happy we have these recordings to capture that point in our band history.
It was sweltering hot on August 14, 2005. One of those high temperature, 110% humidity, late Summer days with thick dark grey-purple-blue skies rolling in. The storm was just gathering and pulsing overhead as we ripped through a raw and punchy set in the tight studio room. Carter played with a sore index finger – he had burned it on the hot trigger of a gun shooting skeet that afternoon. David had broken his foot that week, somehow tripping over one of the concrete blocks that define the front ends of parking spaces in a parking lot. (I think these are called, appropriately, “parking stops” – I just looked them up on parkinglotsupply.com) He came in on crutches and sat on a stool and nailed his parts. It’s a challenge playing in settings like this, where the amps are buffered off from each other and you rely on the mix in your headphones and muscle memory to coordinate with each other and make it through the songs successfully. I think sitting down helped him really focus on his fluid but robust bass lines.
This song is called “Grizzly Beer,” recorded live at that session. It was one of the new tunes we played that day, featuring a 5/8 train ride feel. I always envisioned myself falling off a train when this song ended with a hanging crash. Ross Grady engineered and recorded the session and Nick Petersen applied some post-production this week.
David is now battling cancer. He was diagnosed last Spring and underwent chemotherapy through 2011 and is now undergoing a cutting edge stem cell transplant treatment at UNC’s Lineberger Cancer Center. He’s facing costs of $200,000-$600,000 and his insurance lapsed in early February. He is still awaiting help from Medicare and though he’s in no condition to work, his disability payments don’t start until this Summer. David and his mother have been staying in the SECU Family House in Chapel Hill at additional expense. While the Family House is cleaner and cheaper than a hotel, it is not free and financial constraints have jeopardized their ability to stay there while he undergoes treatments over the next few months.
David has registered with two charitable fundraising organizations which accept tax-deductible donations on his behalf:
David is fighting hard and never intended to approach friends “hat-in-hand,” but his situation is challenging and we wanted to share this information and do all we can. This is about supuport and hope.
On that note, we along with a bunch of David’s friends, are playing a Benefit Concert on Tuesday, April 10th at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. The show is completely free, but we’re asking for donations to further fight against these mounting bills. We have a solid and diverse lineup, including people who have played with David in various bands, worked with David at various jobs, and friends who are generally just rising to the occasion:
- The Bastages – 7:30
- Monsonia – 9:00
- Ben Davis and the Jetts – 10:00
- Jule Brown – 11:30
- John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff – Time TBD
- Turchi – Time TBD
The final line-up and times are TBD (check back!) and the show starts promptly at 7:30. We’re hoping to wrap things up by 12:30 (it’s a school/work night!). If you cannot attend but would still like to make a $10 donation, you can purchase a ticket through the Cradle website, where eTix is donating proceeds towards the fund.
Thank you for reading this, for considering helping our friend, and for checking out our live recording of “Grizzly Beer,” featuring only one facet’s of David’s great playing: his edgy but fluid bass groove. We hope you can make it out to the show, would consider contributing to his funds, or at the very least to send some positive, hopeful energy out to Dave!