A benefit show is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the Vermont music community at large has proven again and again that it is up to the task of aiding neighbors in need. That’s a comforting and beautiful thought. The flip side: A benefit is usually called for because someone is in the midst of personal tragedy.
Last week I received an email from a reader named Melissa Wright. Melissa was writing to pass along details about a show she’s helped organize to benefit her friend Heather Carstairs, who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. Not being familiar with Heather, I asked Melissa to send along some details about her friend. I found what she wrote so touching, I thought I’d share it with you now. Take it away, Melissa.
“Heather was a manager at Borders on Church Street for many years. She is very cute and covered in tattoos, and most people recognize her from [the store]. She has five children ranging in age from 7 to 18, although there are many teens in Burlington who refer to her as, Mom. She will tell you she has six kids, since she took in an extra teen, who was a friend of her son and having problems at home. Heather took him in as one of her own.
“Heather has done a lot of outreach and mentoring with Burlington teens and you can often find many of them in her house hanging out or asking for advice. Her house has always been a safe house for all of them.
“She is quiet and soft-spoken, but very approachable and easy to confide in. Heather has always been a giver. She listens to everybody’s problems and is a completely selfless person. She is 40, although you would guess younger.
“Heather doesn’t smoke, drink or do any drugs and somehow still wound up with lung cancer. She randomly had a seizure one day in late spring and went to the E.R. There they diagnosed her with lung cancer that had traveled to her brain. She also has two cancer tumors fused to her spine. She is going through chemo and radiation and obviously can’t be working right now.
“Her prognosis is not good, although her attitude remains positive through all the emotional and physical toll this is taking on her. She is little but she is a fighter. If attitude has anything to do with beating cancer, Heather will win the fight.”
And you can help. Wednesday, July 27, Club Metronome will host a benefit show for Heather Carstairs, with all proceeds from the night going to Heather and her family. Slated to appear are Rough Francis , Doll Fight! , AbadDon  and Ryan Power . The Green Mountain Derby Dames will also be on hand running a raffle, the proceeds of which also go to Heather.
Good luck, Heather. Give ’em hell.
The summer music festival season is upon us, which can only mean that the summer music festival preview season is almost over. This Thursday, July 21, Club Metronome will host a Bella Terra Festival  preview show featuring a few acts from the mammoth upstate New York fest in mid-August, including reggae-hop hybrids the Alchemystics , calypso star Kurt Allen , Massachusetts-based hip-hop crew the Problemaddicts  (love that name), Wobblesauce  (ditto) and DJ Theory .
A new café in Montpelier has started booking live music in an effort to ease the sting of losing Langdon Street Café this past spring … man, that still really sucks. Anyway, Bagitos on Main Street is hosting a weekly open mic on Monday nights, Irish Sessions on Tuesdays and an acoustic blues jam on Wednesdays, and will occasionally book bands on the weekends. This Sunday, July 24, Bagitos hosts a brunch set with swingin’ daddy-o Lewis Franco .
Congrats to local MC BURNTmd . The burgeoning hip-hop mogul recently released a track with Keith Murray  called “Smugglers’ Notch” that was named a “Banger” by online hip-hop oracle XXL Magazine  last week. Well played, sir.
Any Dixie Chicks fans in the house? Wow. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write … Anyway, former DCs Martie Maguire and Emily Robison swing through town this week with their new band, Court Yard Hounds . They’ll be at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge on Wednesday, July 20.
Band Name of the Week: Hammer No More the Fingers . This Durham, N.C., indie-rock band is touring behind a nifty new album, Black Shark, that really recalls the halcyon indie and alt-rock of the 1990s … man, I feel old. Catch them at the Monkey House on Tuesday, July 26.
Speaking of the Monkey House, if you only go to one show this week … well, it should really be the cancer benefit at Club Metronome. But if you go to two shows this week, make the second the Angioplasty Media-MSR Presents cosponsored indie rock-analia with Twin Sister , Lost Boy?  and Burlington’s own Parmaga  on Saturday, July 23. Skinny jeans will be available at the door to those who arrive improperly attired. No, not really.
Welcome back, Andrew Parker-Renga . The talented songwriter recently relocated to Boston, but returns to Vermont this week with a show at the Bee’s Knees in Morrisville on Wednesday, July 27.
Indie-pop fans, take note, Brooklyn’s Low Water  have a pair of Vermont shows this week: Friday, July 22, at Radio Bean and Saturday, July 23, at Parker Pie Co. in West Glover. The band has been garnering rave reviews for its latest album, The Taste You Know and Enjoy, well beyond the usual smattering of mentions on hipsterer-than-thou music blogs. NPR recently featured the band on “All Songs Considered,” and American Writer dubbed them as their “Writer of the Week” in late December. So Low Water have that going for them, which is nice. Also, as evidenced by their press photo, the band members have great mustaches, which almost always bodes well for indie bands.
Happy Birthday to Ryan Brennan of Bonjour-Hi!  The eclectic DJ collective celebrates in style this Friday, July 22, at Parima, with a little help from their friends, including DJ Disco Phantom , Bass Culture , Lazerdisk Party Sex , Craig Mitchell  and DJ A-Dog , the last of whom will be doing a special video-mixing set.
The fancy-schmancy new-ish Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe recently started augmenting its calendar with local fare. This week, it’s honky-tonk hero Brett Hughes and his band, the Whiskey Lickers on Wednesday, July 27. The group is composed of several Honky Tonk Tuesday regulars, including Mark Ransom on bass, Sean Preece on drums and guitarist Mark Spencer. Also on the bill are speedwestern favorites Waylon Speed .
Last but not least, a pop quiz: Name the dude who wrote and performed the song “St. Elmo’s Fire.” If you know the answer to that without Googling it, congrats. Your knowledge of obscure ’80s-music trivia is unparalleled. And also kind of disturbing. For the rest of you, the answer is John Parr . Why do I bring this up, you ask? Because he’s playing at the Rusty Nail in Stowe this Saturday, July 23, with local songwriter Sarah Wallis . Parr is touring behind a new acoustic-rock double album, Letter to America. And here’s a fun fact: Earlier this year, he was touring with Richard Marx. Yes, really.