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Mickfest giving back to a man who gave it all to the local scene

Monday 17th, April 2017 / 18:52
By Stepan Soroka

Photo by Corinne Kuan

The Vancouver music community is joining forces on behalf of one of our city’s most definitive rock ‘n’ roll heroes.

Reading through a list of bands Mick Tupelo has been involved in is like taking a decades-long trip through Vancouver rock ‘n’ roll history. His resume begins with The Bill of Rights, who along with contemporaries like D.O.A. and Death Sentence helped form a distinct Vancouver sound amid the hardcore punk explosion of the early 1980s. An “intensely political band who combine new music with crunching guitars and harsh gravelly vocals,” according to Vancouver fanzine No Cause for Concern, The Bill of Rights released two EPs with Mick heading up bass duties. Later, Mick would do the same for The Bill of Rights’ contemporaries House of Commons, one of the few bands who bridged the Vancouver/Victoria scene divide during the ‘80s.

In the ‘90s, Mick took up guitar, vocal and stand-up bass duties in The Deadcats. Known as “the godfathers of Canadian psychobilly,” The Deadcats boasted a career that lasted a full two decades, including seven albums, numerous North American tours and international releases on labels in Japan, Germany and England. Add to this a number of shorter-lived projects like Los Nitros and The Highsiders and you begin to get an idea of Mick’s musical longevity and breadth. As far as rock ‘n’ roll goes, this guy is a lifer.

Unfortunately, in 2010 Mick was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disease with no known cure. As his condition worsened, Mick was forced to stop playing music as well as to retire from the job he had held for 20 years. Robbed of both his livelihood and his passion, Mick became a self-described shut-in, requiring a wheelchair to get around and suffering falls that further exacerbated his already unmanageable medical bills. With no signs of improvement and a couple of unrelated surgeries looming on the horizon, Mick’s prognosis was not looking good. That’s when several friends decided to step in and organize a fundraiser.

“I’m super happy to help out an old scene contributor like Mick,” says Seamus McGrath of Not Yer Buddy, who is handling the promotional aspect of the show. “We’ll be doing a raffle at the show and launching a corresponding GoFundMe campaign.” The bands playing the fundraiser, which takes place at Pat’s Pub on Friday, April, 21, are all composed of Mick’s former bandmates and good friends, who are hoping to raise some money towards, among other costs, the $17,000 required for Mick to get a new power wheelchair.

Mickfest 2017 takes place at Pat’s Pub on Friday, April 21 and features The Bad Beats, Wett Stillettos, Cawama, Wichita Trip, The Deadcats, Steady Teddy and the K-Train Babies, Country Club Hustlers and Crimson Clovers.

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