Bits 'n' Pieces: Peers play benefit for rocker

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

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When Vancouver rocker Rex Cabot Wilson fell down, dozens of local musicians jumped at the chance to help him back up.

Wilson was hospitalized early last month after a severe asthma attack led to respiratory arrest. He was put in a medically induced coma, but is now awake and improving in the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon at Portland’s Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center. Even after he is released, Wilson will have to undergo months of outpatient therapy.

“Every day is like I hit a new milestone,” Wilson said.

His bills would be staggering even without the tough reality that Wilson only has limited health insurance.

To help their friend cover his mounting medical bills, dozens of musicians from the area are taking part in a daylong benefit concert Sunday, a jam-packed show of friendship and music featuring 18 bands from 11 a.m. to midnight at Cascade Bar and Grill, 15000 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. A $10 donation is suggested.

Those who want to help, but can’t make the show, can give to the “Rex Wilson Donation Fund” at Key banks in Washington.

The marathon rock show is not only a celebration of Wilson, but also of the local music scene, which the guitarist has been entrenched in for decades.

The concert was organized by a dedicated team of Wilson supporters who are involved with him in the music world, including Christine Ann Muenchhalfen, Jennifer Hadley, Ginger Caviness and Cascade Bar and Grill owner Gary Hostetler.

Wilson’s longtime friend Peter Feher said he’s happy the musician has been making solid progress in what could still end up being a lengthy recovery, as Wilson works daily to restore full mobility of his limbs and regain strength. Through it all, his wife, Marisol, has been by his side at the hospital.

“It’s slow and it’s steady and it’s going to take a long time,” Feher said. “But he is getting better.”

Fellow Vancouver musician Frank Murray first met the rocker in the 1980s when Wilson fronted the popular Portland group Rex & The Rockits.

To do his part, Murray will play the benefit in both Petty Fever and Zuzo Blue. Other bands on the lineup include: The Bar Pilots, Madson and Kingdom Under Fire.

“It’s obvious by the amount of support Rex has received during his illness, he has a lot of great friends and is very well-respected by his fellow musicians,” Murray said.

There will also be raffles for guitars and other items Sunday to bring in more money.

When he was approached to host the benefit, Hostetler said he was more than happy to lend a hand. A number of other recent local concerts also raised money to help Wilson in his time of need.

“He’s pretty loved in the community,” Hostetler said.

His bar also held a charity concert in 2009 for Kevin Tracey, after the Washougal guitarist was brutally beaten and robbed while skiing near Dougan Falls.

“Musicians that come in and play here are kind of like family,” Hostetler said. “Everybody tries to support each other.”


Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.