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Sugar Shack Reunites: A Tribute to Johnny Romano, November 9th [10/07/2008 01:58:00 AM]:
Remember Sugar Shack? I sure as hell do -- I can remember a time when they were the one and only band (that I knew of, anyway) signed to a "big-name," outside- of-Houston label (Estrus), and they were looking like H-town garage rock's Last Great Hope. They were raw, loud, aggressive, angry, and reportedly tough as nails, all while holding together some truly great, white-hot, garage-y punk jams.

Time rolled on, unfortunately, and the band grew up, got married, and evaporated into the steamy Houston night, leaving a ton of depressed fans (local and non-) in their wake. I hadn't heard much about 'em for the past few years, really -- there were rumors that they'd reunite to play the Axiom blowout last year, but sadly, it didn't happen. I'd thought they were dead & gone, for real; no going back, y'know?

Imagine my surprise, then, when I get an email from Stefanie Friedman, the much-revered drummer for the Shack, declaring that they really are reuniting for a very, very special show this coming November 9th at The Continental Club. They're calling it "A Tribute to Johnny Romano," and it's a show/auction/party extravaganza she's organizing to both pay tribute to a young friend who passed on too soon and help his parents take care of the mountain-high stack of medical bills left behind. I can't really paraphrase the point behind the show any better than that, so here's the gist from Stefanie herself:

About 3 years ago a local 10-year old skater/surfer was diagnosed with Leukemia. In May he was hit with some big time infections that caused his cancer to come out of remission. He and his family lived at Texas Children's Hospital for about 5 months. Things got pretty awful for them. The little boy's name was Johnny Romano. His mother started a blog about his illness that has literally captured the hearts of thousands. My family had our first contact with Johnny Romano during a Galveston "grom" (kid) surf competition. My five year old surfed with him and we couldn't believe how great he was. We did not know at the time he had cancer.. no one would have guessed because his smile and his style were the model of health.

Johnny lost his battle on September 23rd, right after Ike destroyed his family's home. There was a benefit planned in Galveston on September 28th to raise money for the family and their unbelievable medical expenses. Because of Ike that didn't happen. That turned out to be the day they buried Johnny.

Sugar Shack has been asked to play a lot of reunions. We have said no. It has been four years since we have played. All of us are now parents. All of us are surfers. We feel so lucky each time we look at our kids and felt that we might be able to raise some money for the Romano family and have a tribute that all of their friends could enjoy. Galveston has had a tough time. Johnny Romano and his family were a big part of the Galveston Community.

I am organizing a big "surf" show blow out on November 9th at the Continental Club and Sig's Lagoon. I have forwarded you a poster with the bands. Teisco Del Rey (Dan Forte) is coming from Austin to play surf guitar. We will have a big surf silent auction with donated pieces from well-known artists from California, Texas and Hawaii.

The surf company Ten Over is bringing a small parade of vintage, re-done, VW buses and surf mobiles for display. There will also be vintage surf boards on display and old surf flicks playing all day. This also the weekend of the Texas Skate Jam, Make A Wish foundation which has now been renamed, Johnny Romano Skate Jam. If you would like to check out the Romano's blog, it is www.j-grom.blogspot.com or johnnykickscancer.com. Both sites will tell you a bit about the family and their little boy who loved and lived life to the fullest.

Man. When I read back over that, I just get this urge to go in and hug my daughter. I get what Stefanie says about feeling lucky to have a healthy kid. I'm unbelievably lucky that I don't have to worry if something's going to happen to them or think about what I'd do if I lost my little girl, at least not like Johnny's parents lost their child. It breaks my heart.

I also feel like I should note that the bands other than the Shack are also fine, fine bands selflessly donating their time to the worthiest cause I can imagine -- the Luxurious Panthers always rock, as do The Neptones (who I hadn't realized were still alive & kicking, actually). Big, big kudos to Stefanie and the Sugar Shack crew, the Continental/Sig's Lagoon crew, Uncle Charlie, all the bands, the whole gang -- this is going to be something special.

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