Arts and Culture

Help Musician Steve Gordon Beat Cancer at American Gothic 2017

Animal / object musician Steven Gordon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Kurt Bauer
Animal / object musician Steven Gordon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Kurt Bauer calls Steve Gordon a bona fide Renaissance man: “He’s a musician and artist and inventor — he does all kinds of interesting things.” He should know — Bauer performs with his buddy in the ambient/improvisational Denver band Animal / object. “Steve turned me on to a doorbell microphone,” Bauer says. “He makes homemade instruments. He’s a painter and a faux-finishing expert. Steve is a guy who’s always doing something, all the time.”

A month ago, Gordon added a new challenge to his multi-faceted résumé: beating cancer. Diagnosed with stage two pancreatic cancer, he’s currently receiving a battery of chemotherapy treatments to shrink the tumors to a more operable size. Weak and in constant pain, he’s lost more than fifty pounds, and for the time being, Gordon has had to take a hiatus from his work as a caregiver so he can rest. Not that it's easy for him to rest.

“For this to step in and disrupt his lifestyle is hard to take,” Bauer notes. “But Steve’s not bitter or whiny about it. He’s kind of said, ‘Well, that’s life. Let’s see what we can do here.'”

A network of friends rushed in right away to help, setting up a food train to deliver him meals and otherwise checking in with Gordon on a daily basis, but reality still encroaches. While going through treatment, he still has bills to pay. Bauer says the possibility of a GoFundMe page was raised among friends to help with the bills, which then morphed into a bigger idea: a full-on fundraiser that would blend support from Gordon’s art and music communities, bringing together an interdisciplinary crowd to share some love for a mutual friend. “If people are already donating food, let’s see if they can also donate a few dollars to keep the heat on,” Bauer explains.

The resulting concert and silent auction benefit, American Gothic 2017, happens on November 25 at the Mercury Cafe, with a big musical lineup headlined by Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, with Denver groups Animal / object, the Lynn Baker/Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Jazz Duo, Tom Waits enthusiast David Dinsmore's Lost Dog Ensemble, the Noise Gallery and the Perry Weissman III. Gordon hopes to perform with both Animal / object and the Noise Gallery, strength willing.

As for the auction, several artists with local ties have already donated works, among them Bill Amundson, Karen Bozik, Wendi Harford, Matt O’Neill and Reed Weimer; Bauer and Gordon himself are chipping in with an eclectic array of instruments, while other donations coming in range from tattoos to Colorado Symphony tickets.

‘It’s cool to see the community step up,” Bauer notes gratefully. “Now we’re just trying to get people to the show, to see what’s transpiring.”

Do a good deed and have a great time at American Gothic 2017 (named for a hospital selfie Gordon posted on Facebook after exploratory surgery, and the inspiration for Bauer’s benefit-gig poster) starting at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 25, upstairs at the Merc, 2199 California Street. Admission is $20 at the door; learn more at the Facebook event page or call 303-294-9281. Can’t make it, but still want to help? Friends have started a Paypal account in Gordon’s name, and if you prefer to pay back with a home-cooked meal, sign up online for a slot on Steven Gordon’s Food Train.