Every cloud has a silver lining. Thatʼs what Penn State student Matt Kelly and his friends found out through their program known as Music vs. Cancer, an organization that takes money made from concerts and donates it to charity, specifically those involving cancer. Music Vs. Cancer was started when a friend of Kellyʼs, a high school senior named Matt Turnbull, was diagnosed with leukemia in November of 2004. Through the outpouring of support, Kelly realized that the best way to support his friend would be through what he knew best: music. “The idea truly started after talking to my friend Sarah Gallitig while discussing different ideas for charity fundraisers,” Kelly said.
“Basically, when Iʼm planning an event, I call all the bands Iʼve ever met, known, or played with to see if theyʼd be interested. All of them were very, very into the idea.” Concerts are put together several times a month. Coffee houses are free to get into, while other events are five dollars for admission, which goes directly to cancer charities.
Many of the bands are local to the Chester and Delaware County areas. “Itʼs hard to specify my favorite bands from Music Vs. Cancer,” Kelly said. “But if I had to really pick some Iʼd have to say my top five favorites are Hey Hey, Committed, Great Caeserʼs Ghost, Dirty Larry, and Count Robocula. Iʼd also keep my eye on this band called My December, who is doing really great, but I havenʼt worked with them yet.” Kelly himself performs at these shows too, as the awful yet hilarious “Saint Mort,” a Weird Al Yankovic in his own time.
Music vs. Cancer has been present at a number of events, namely at Penn-State Delco and at coffee houses at Mount Hope Church in Aston, Pa. They have even appeared at West Chester University several times, including “Brianʼs Run” in Fall 2004.
Kelly also oversaw production of a compilation CD known as “Music vs. Cancer: Volume 1.” Kelly said, “This is the first step to what is going to soon be a new release every six months of about 18 songs from 18 bands that do shows with us. The CDs are only available at our shows for $5 which is really reasonable for the amount of quality music you get. The money goes to help us rent different venues in which to have shows.” Some of the artists on the CD include Original Sinz, Andrew Emsley, Modern Bliss, Committed, and Last Tuesday (who has recently been signed to Mono Vs. Stero Records). In regard to how Music vs. Cancer is fulfilling to him personally, Kelly remarked, “The most fulfilling thing in this are the bandsʼ dedication to the events, how far some of them drive to do these shows. They never ask for a cent and it really is a reminder that the world isnʼt nearly as bad as we see it on TV.”
The next Music vs. Cancer event is a coffee house on Saturday, Feb. 12 at Mouth Hope Church in Aston from 6 – 10 p.m. The next concert will be on Feb. 25 at Penn- State Delco from 6 – 11 p.m. For more information, visit the official Music vs. Cancer Web site at www.musicvscancer.cjb.net.