One of my all-time favorite bands is Jawbox, the highly influential, D.C.-area, Dischord-turned-Atlantic post-hardcore group led by singer-guitarist J. Robbins. Since I was a fan of Government Issue, for whom Robbins played bass for a spell in the late '80s, I was around pretty much at the beginning of the band's run in 1989; I saw some of their earliest shows, and probably caught them a couple dozen times over the years until their dissolution in 1997. They were simply one of the best, most powerful live bands I've ever seen. In addition, I had the privilege of occasionally speaking with/hanging out with J. in those early years, and then later, after I became a music journalist, formally interviewing him a couple of times regarding Jawbox, his subsequent trio Burning Airlines, and his esteemed production/engineering career (he's helmed albums by such artists as the Promise Ring, Dismemberment Plan, Hey Mercedes, and many, many more). In all my encounters with J., I found him to be one of the most gracious, most sincere, and coolest people I've ever met, either within or outside the music world. And when someone is that decent of a person, and their music has had that much of an impact on your life, you kinda wish you could give something back at some point (more than just buying a disc or a T-shirt).
This happens to be one of those times. I learned yesterday via a MySpace bulletin (yep, they actually work) that J. and his wife Janet's 10-month-old son, Callum, was recently diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare genetic disease that is typically fatal. There are promising treatments but no cure, and even if Callum survives past his second birthday -- and most children stricken with Type 1 SMA don't -- he'll be wheelchair-bound for life. Needless to say, this has been devastating for J. and his family emotionally, and in addition, the medical bills have been piling up. Therefore, I really wanted to pass along the word that his friends/onetime Jawbox compadres Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot, who run DeSoto Records, have set up the Callum Robbins Family Fund, which accepts donations via PayPal or credit card. If you are so inclined, please head to www.desotorecords.com/cal/index.shtml to read more about the situation and to make a contribution, or at the very least send a note of support. It would mean a ton to the Robbins family.