Cancer, I don't mind saying in plain language, is a son of a bitch. There is not a person on the planet who hasn't been touched by the blighted disease at some point or another in their lives, and none of us would wish it on our biggest enemies. So when Matt Nyberg's family was stricken, it wasn't a question of who would help, it was a question of how to accommodate everyone.
Nyberg, who has graced stages throughout Iowa with acts like Dawn of Destruction and Facecage, is a well known and much beloved member of the local music community. Nicole, his best friend and mother of his two young children, has been fighting her cancer for the past three years, but was recently told that she has less than a year to live. The family has found an alternative treatment facility in Arizona, but it is expensive, and even getting there has proven a challenge: last week Nicole was on her way to the facility, but fell ill. Nyberg rushed down to Kansas City to retrieve her, and brought her back to a hospital here.
But for as difficult a time as Nyberg and his family is having at the moment, his musical brothers and sisters have decided to make sure he's not going through it alone. Mike Ruby, frontman of Cirrus Minor and guitarist for Alchemist, was the one who first got the idea for a fundraiser.
“I'm not going to lie, alcohol was involved,” Ruby said of the idea's birth while at a show at Wooly's. “But the great thing about it was the next day, when all of these people who are drunk-committing the night before were getting in touch and still committing when they were sober.”
And the commitments have been impressive. Aside from Ruby and his Alchemist band mates, Slyde, The Maw, Deadfront and Switchblade Saturdays have all hopped on board to play the event, and bands and local businesses from around the city have pitched in items for a silent auction. Admission is a $5 donation, but if people want to pitch in more, arguments won't be made.
“Matt is such a great guy,” said Alchemist keyboardist Rich Cantrell. “He's our brother. We're all family in this scene. We couldn't just sit by.”
It does not matter what kind of music you dig, or at least it should not. Family transcends things like taste or disposition. When family needs help, we rally.
Originally appeared in Cityview January 15, 2015