by Chris Rotolo, Senior Staff Writer
After receiving word that his brother’s long-time friend and college roommate, James “JD” Wilson (cofounder of the local non-profit organization Music Is The Medicine [MITM]) was going to enlist in the Air Force, Connor Effenberger, drummer of the Asbury Folk-Rock outfit The Amboys, got a sinking feeling in his stomach.
“I feared for the worst,” explained Effenberger, “which at the time I thought was death. However, after researching the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] and the mental turmoil it can put someone through,” he continued “I, personally, would prefer to die.”
As a response to the horrid ailment that is PTSD, Effenberger and his brothers, Brent and Dan (the latter is also a member of The Amboys), officially launched MITM in 2010 with its first event in September of that year, “Music Is The Medecine: A Benefit To Fight PTSD.”
“After a few years of planning on doing something to support the cause,” explained Effenberger, “my brothers and I had our Wayne’s World 2 moment and decided to put on a concert.”
It was a success.
This year MITM is at it again with a July 15th musical fundraising event hosted by The Beachcomber Bar & Grille in Seaside Heights, entitled “Do It For Johnny,” in support of the Sloan & Kettering Memorial Hospital and Cancer Center in New York City, the site at which Johnny Hoffman, a good friend of the Effenberger family, received treatment before passing away in the fall after a hard fought battle with brain cancer.
“I remember when Dan came home from the wake, I could read his mind, as if he was saying ‘We’re doing it for Johnny!’” explained Effenberger.
“As far as I can remember,” he continued “there wasn’t even a formal discussion about this year’s event, it just came natural to all of us to do a benefit for Sloan and Kettering.”
The Amboys stick wielder went on to say that all of the proceeds MITM receives this year will go directly to the New York City based hospital in order to further their cancer research.
“We tossed around the idea of possibly giving the money directly to a family to help support the weight of their medical bills,” said Effenberger, “but we’d rather invest in getting rid of cancer altogether.”
The lineup for this year’s event has been set…and it’s stacked, including such local favorites as Mad Feather Group, Ben Franklin (Brooklyn), Elevator Art, Secret Country, Threats To Chesney, and of course, The Amboys, as well as the Baltimore, MD-based The Oldliners, and as mentioned prior, the show will return to The Beachcomber.
“The Beachcomber is one of the few blue collar refuges in Seaside Heights that actually has the balls to put on a show with original rock bands,” expressed Effenberger of MITM’s choice of venue. “They were extremely supportive of our benefit last year and we’re excited to have it booked for a second.”
As well as venturing down the Shore to The Beachcomber on the 15th, you can show your support for Music Is The Medecine’s “Do It For Johnny” by taking part in the organization’s “Thumb Drive,” which entails, quite simply, taking a photograph of yourself giving a thumbs up and e-mailing the photo to MITMThumbDrive@gmail.com. Prizes for the most creative photographs will be awarded at the event…for more information on the event and the “Thumb Drive” click here.
NOTE: It should be written that this will be the last area show for The Amboys until August when the band will hold a release party for its forthcoming EP.