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What’s the nicest thing you can do for a really ill pal? If you’re a musician, throwing a party comes to mind. Anyway, that’s what Eva Cassidy’s buddies—and a helluva lot of local guitar pickers and ivory ticklers and skin pounders and reed men fall into that category—are doing for her. Last month, the Bowie blues diva was diagnosed with cancer, and word of her illness traveled as quick as a 16th note through the local arts community.
“I was getting so many calls from people who wondered what they could do for Eva,” says Al Dale, Cassidy’s longtime manager. “I wanted to come up with something besides sending flowers.”
Dale decided to put together a concert in her honor, and the folks at Cellar Door liked the idea so much they offered the Bayou for such an event, free of charge. Tuesday night the club will host “A Musical Salute to Eva Cassidy,” during which some of the biggest names on the D.C. music scene will take the stage to let their friend know she’s in their thoughts. Among those scheduled to perform: Chuck Brown, Ron Holloway, Keter Betts, Kevin Johnson, Tom Principato, Mark Wenner, John Previti, Junior Cline and the Recliners, Tommy Lepson, Linwood Taylor, and Mary Ann Redmond.
Cassidy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. If she has the strength, she will sing a song or two. “Listen, cancer is nothing to be happy about, but we’re not doing this as some solemn affair,” cautions Dale. “We want this to be a party, to be uplifting, to show her how much we’re pulling for her. Things are tough right now, but hopefully, she can beat this crap.” Tickets are $20. Proceeds will go to Cassidy to help defray medical expenses. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.—Dave McKenna