We here at Metro Pulse write about a lot of benefit concerts. Hell, sometimes we even throw them ourselves. But this one’s different. This one hits home.
Rikki Hall has been writing for Metro Pulse for the last decade. His reporting and columns on topics from the environment to Gov. Bill Haslam’s ethics to County Commission were hard-hitting and fueled by a passion for doing the right thing. “Moral outrage” is a term often bandied about with ridicule, but Rikki’s outrage wasn’t some liberal knee-jerk reaction. He thought about things. He considered them. And then he wrote about them, and he wrote about them well.
You might have noticed Rikki’s columns have been less frequent in the past year. That’s because he’s been spending much of his time in doctors’ offices and clinics in Durham, N.C., and in Knoxville. Rikki was diagnosed with a brain tumor last winter, and writing has been one of the last things on his mind.
For a while, Rikki’s treatment was working, and we all had hope that we’d be getting his perspective on the idiocy of the state Legislature for years to come. But cancer is a shitty bastard that doesn’t give a flip about your plans, and it returned and spread with a vengeance.
Rikki Hall is dying. Typing those words doesn’t make it any easier for us to process. He’s been a part of the Knoxville community and the Metro Pulse community both for so very long, it seems unfathomable to picture it without him. But sometime this spring or summer, it’s going to happen, and it’s completely unfair, and it simply sucks.
But just because Rikki’s dying doesn’t mean that he’s not living out his final days with the joy with which he’s lived his entire life. We all die at some point, but we don’t all get to go out with a party.
And so you are invited, to one last party with Rikki. To a benefit concert—not for him, because that’s not what he wants, since he’s one of the most unselfish people on the planet—but for the Little River Watershed Association, a cause near and dear to Rikki’s heart. Starting at 7 p.m. on March 20 at Scruffy City Hall, some of Rikki’s musician friends will be playing their hearts out for the man we all love. And they’ll all be doing it with the songs of Warren Zevon.
Zevon, one of Rikki’s favorite musicians, died of a brain tumor. That’s partially why the benefit organizers decided to combine the concert for Rikki with a Zevon tribute.
Shortly before he died, Zevon was asked for some parting advice. His reply: “Enjoy every sandwich.” It’s not bad advice, really. And you should put it into practice by attending Enjoy Every Sandwich: An Evening of Warren Zevon for Rikki Hall, which will be your chance to metaphorically enjoy a sandwich with Rikki, perhaps for the last time.
As of now, the lineup for the show includes the Tim Lee 3, the Greg Horne Band, Itchy Bruddah (aka, Phil Fuson), the French, and Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet. Lee, Horne, and Hudson K’s Christina Horn will also form a house band of sorts, with which R.B. Morris, Kevin Abernathy, Chris Durman, Sonja Spell, and Daniel Kimbro will sing. More musical guests will be announced soon.
The concert is just $5, so you really have no excuse for not showing up. Do it for the watershed, do it for the music, but most of all, do it for Rikki.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story said Rikki Hall has mesothelioma, the same type of brain cancer that Warren Zevon died from. That is incorrect. Rikki is suffering from glioblastoma multiforme.