Don York photos Rick Dalgarno (above, second from left) with Blue Voodoo bandmates, who will be playing to help raise funds for him at the Rhumba Room on Sunday.

A benefit for a musician with a big heart

Help Rick’s Heart event supports Blue Voodoo lead guitarist and vocalist Rick Dalgarno

Ask Rick Dalgarno how he’s doing these days and the answer is likely to be upbeat.

“I’m doing alright, I guess – I’m walking on the road, not underneath it,” he chuckled this week, during a phone interview with Peace Arch News.

But the longtime lead guitarist and vocalist for the popular Semiahmoo Peninsula-based band The Blue Voodoo is well aware that he can’t afford to shrug off a severe heart attack May 7, or underestimate the effect a long-term recovery prognosis will have – inevitably – on both his musical life and his regular daytime gig in the building-maintenance field.

He says he feels particularly blessed, however, with the help he has received from his wife, Jeanine Burns, and the rest of the family – and an outpouring of support from friends, bandmates, other Peninsula musicians and the wider Lower Mainland music community, to help him over the current rough patch.

Sunday, local music promoters the Semiahmoo Music Consortium, the White Rock Blues Society and Blue Voodoo co-founder and colleague Ted Tosoff are presenting a fundraiser, Help Rick’s Heart, in South Surrey at The Pacific Inn’s Rhumba Room.

The 4-9 p.m. event is bringing together Dalgarno’s friends and peers, including the Heart tribute band Barracuda, Lone Wolf, the Mojo Stars, the Gale Force Blues Band, Glen Pearson, James ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Steve Sainas, David ‘Boxcar’ Gates, Jordan Carrier and Jack & Dev (Dalgarno’s nephew and daughter) and – of course – his band The Blue Voodoo (featuring guests guitarist/vocalist ‘Poppa Dawg’ Halisheff and singer Laura Bacon).

Long & McQuade are providing the entire backline for the concert, while Rob Nelson of Robco Sound is donating the sound equipment and engineers.

“I’m going to be there,” Dalgarno said. “Ted told me ‘you don’t have to if you don’t feel up to it,’ but how could I miss all that love?”

Organizers note that it’s not been hard to gather support – Dalgarno has been all heart in the past, when it’s come to playing special events to support others in the community.

As Dalgarno’s sister, Tracy Mooney, writes on a gofundme page she set up (ca.gofundme.com/help-support-rick-dalgarno), “Rick, who has donated a lot of his time to do fundraisers for other causes, is in dire need of our help now.”

The seasoned musician, who turned 50 only weeks before the heart attack, acknowledged he is fortunate that events played out as they did.

It turns out that heart conditions run in his family on his mother’s side, but he had given little thought to that until the May 7 incident.

“I didn’t see it coming,” he said. “We all take our health for granted, and I wasn’t regular in going to the doctor.

“There were really no warning signs. I felt like I had the flu for about a week before, but (when it came) it was all the classic symptoms – pain in my chest, in my arm, my leg swelled right up and I started retaining a whole bunch of fluid. My wife said ‘you’re not staying at home’ and thank heavens she did.

“But I had the typical reaction, you know – ‘it’s nothing,’” he said, laughing. “I even drove myself up to the hospital.”

It was only after the first tests came back that a doctor told him he’d had, not one, but two major heart attacks, one of them “some time ago,” he said.

“What I had was congestive heart failure, but my arteries aren’t plugged,” he added, noting he has had “every test known to man,” with further tests coming up next month.

Even though his heart is performing at only 22 per cent of capacity at present, Dalgarno said he has been getting exercise – he reckons he walks as much as nine kilometres a day – and has been trying to keep his hand musically in acoustic practise sessions with Tosoff, although he said he notices his stamina, particularly in vocalizing, is considerably down.

He’s reconciled to a slow return to musical activities, but the more serious situation is going to be replacing his day-to-day income, he said.

“I’m not fit to go back to the job I’ve been doing,” he said, adding that his current disability benefits run out at the beginning of August.

“I know my doctor will help me out with getting other benefits, but it’s going to be a little rough,” he said.

“I’m not an invalid, and I do want to be out there working, but it’s pretty scary for someone who’s 50 to have to be thinking about getting some other line of work; to have a company even interested in someone at that age with a heart condition.”

Doors for Sunday’s fundraiser open at 3:30 p.m. and entry is a $20 donation at the door.

Advance tickets are also available at Tapestry Music , Long & McQuade and online at www.brownpapertickets.com

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