This is a call: An open letter to everyone who ever cared about music and people in West Virginia


Dear musicians, promoters, music fans, reviewers, journalists--and human beings:

When Nick Harrah asked me to contribute a few kind words about Ian Thornton a few weeks back, I struggled, as most serious writers do, to find the right words to describe him accurately and sufficiently. Not only is Ian a person I consider a friend, but also someone I have deep respect for.

Ian is, to put in terms that are insufficient in their own right, a "class act." To put it simply, the guy busts his ass to do what he can for what he cares passionately about. That is the measure of a man, in my humble opinion.

Of course, that "toast" was to celebrate Ian's contributions to the music scene.

Live music, especially on a local level, is a metaphor for a strong community bond. All of us involved (in whatever facet that may be) have an understanding that we're all working towards a common goal. It's not celebrity, or for some financial gain, but rather to lift up those around us through music.

When I tried to articulate exactly what Ian means to live music in Huntington, I tried my damnedest to keep those ideas in mind. Those words now seem totally insignificant.

As many of you reading this may already know, Ian's girlfriend (and live music champion in her own right), Monica Watts, was seriously injured in a car accident in the early hours of August 11th. Monica has been fighting for her life since.

So let's get to the point to this. There is a point, right? Good Lord, I hope so.

People become fascinated--and sometimes obsessed--with pop music for various reasons, but I'm convinced that it's an underlying understanding that songs, albums, and artists articulate something about living that we couldn't quite say ourselves. Be it mortality, or love, or loss, or hurt, or joy--it's a reflection about what it means to be human.

Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of running sound at Shamrock's for their 3rd Anniversary Party. Ian, who should be expected to be losing his mind in a random corner, took the stage and played Tom Petty's "Yer So Bad," for Monica. He also sang on The Beatles' "Blackbird." It was deeply touching, to say the least. I found myself muttering, "This is what it's all about," in the booth with no one around.

Considering the fact that you're reading this, you're probably a part of a music scene somewhere in West Virginia. While you may not necessarily be active within the Huntington scene, I have little doubt that towns like Shepherdstown, Morgantown, Charleston, and Parkersburg are all closely knit like our's is.

With that in mind, I ask you, on behalf of Monica and Ian and everyone that holds those fine folks near and dear, to do what you can to support not only Ian's festival, but--more importantly--to support Monica's recovery.

Various charities have been established in Monica's name to help offset the cost of her medical bills. Huntington music writer, Dave Lavender had an article published yesterday detailing the ways to help out. The V Club, thanks to the good souls of Patrick Guthrie and Don Duncan, are planning a special benefit show for Monica on Sunday, September 4th. They are accepting donations for prizes to be raffled off at the show--so if you have anything to contribute, please, contact them.

There are ways to help, people, so do what you can. And if your pocketbooks are strapped for cash, your well wishes are certainly appreciated.

With a heavy heart and a whole lot of hope,

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