It is with relief and elation that ITAV returns to the internet, after a prolonged and unplanned hiatus that began last October. Many a hiatus occurs over something like lack of funds or "artistic differences" or even just simple ennui, but in our case it was a literal miracle:
My good friend Ande was diagnosed with a genetic polycystic kidney disease when we were about 14. He was on a class trip and took a tumble down a steep hillside and got a little banged up, and in the process of checking him out and patching him up, they discovered the cysts. This led to his mom also being diagnosed -- she had been living with the condition, unaware of it because it hadn't presented itself yet. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) leads to eventual kidney failure, usually around the age of 40 or 50, but it could be that Ande's injury back in 1987 accelerated his condition a bit, and this past summer he went into kidney failure. Due to his blood type, his wait for a transplant would have been 7-8 years, a virtual death sentence. Several people volunteered to be tested as a possible match, but my wife was the first and she was a positive match!
We began making preparations for the transplant in February of 2013, but, surprise, it was scheduled for October 19 of 2012! We arrived at the transplant center at U of M Hospital around 5:30 AM that morning, and by 7:45 Randi was being prepped for surgery. By about 10:45 her kidney had been removed, and about 3 hours later it was in Ande and had begun processing the built up toxins in his body.
The next two months were a long, slow period of recovery, but both patients were doing well. I played nurse, helping her stand up and get back into her coccoon on our couch, administering medications, running errands, and cooking. My employers generously let me take two weeks off, which let me be with her 24-7. Many friends came by to visit, bring food, cards, artwork, music and other things. It was like being in an envelope of love and hope.
Randi has been back to work for about a month now, and Ande for a little longer. ITAV took a couple extra weeks to reorganize, but we have re-entered the fray with Volume 18 of the 3-Way Singles Club, which can be streamed or downloaded here: http://music.itavrecords.com/album/3-way-singles-club-vol-18
The single features an exclusive version of Wisconsin indie band Pushmi-Pullyu's song "I'm In Love Again," captured in a crystalline live rendition. Also appearing is a fantastic neo-soul tune, "Never Noticed" by Surgeons In Heat, a band that shares members with the more indie-folk inclined Pioneer, who you might remember backed up Small Houses on their great reading of Paleo's "There, At The Top Of The Stairs" all the way back on 3WSC Vol. 10. "Never Noticed" first appeared on their self-titled album back in April, which you can hear in its entirety here. Closing out this edition is the first musical offering of 3 Trains And Me, a collaboration helmed by longtime Lansing-area musician and musical supporter Augustine Jay. Here he works with members of Narc Out The Reds and The Hat Madder to hatch a slide guitar-infused piece of dark swampy blues called "Born Under." A pretty fantastic triad of songs, if I do say so.
It also features a brand new piece of exclusive artwork made for us by John Praw of Pushmi-Pullyu.
Along with change of the life-altering variety comes, well, more change. The 3-Way Singles Club began in May of 2011 as a monthly series, "3 songs, 3 bands, 3 bucks." Proceeds from the sales of the series and the Mega-Subscription (see the sidebar on this page, to your right) have helped to generate a fund called the Independent Musicians Fund, which currently holds $229.72 -- not a princely sum, but impressive in its own right as it was generated solely through the sale of independent music. The IMF continues to be a sacrosanct fund for independent musicians, see the tab above to learn more about what it does, and why.
Where the change occurs in the 3-Way Singles Club is not in its priorities -- great songs in groups of three, benefiting the very community that they came from -- but rather in its scheduling. Rather than be a metronomic monthly installment, the series will transform into a project-by-project event, allowing artists greater freedom to make bold statements without the artificially imposed pressure of the monthly deadline. We look forward to bringing you the best exclusive songs we can find, in manageable bite-size capsule form, to be taken as needed when you have a fever for great new sounds from hard-working artists who labor without the benefit of media attention or large promotional budgets. Thank you for accompanying us as we continue this journey! And stay tuned for announcements.