Pianist's competitors rally for fellow artist

Local musicians play concert to raise money for a fellow artist

Published: Sunday, April 12 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Musician Paul Cardall, wife Lynette and daughter Eden at a benefit concert hosted by musician friends in his honor in Murray last week.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Third in an occasional series

When earnestness trumps envy and competition gives way to cooperation, great things can happen among friends, though adults — especially those in the public eye — seem often to act otherwise.

So when Russ Dixon, leader of a local band called "Colors," called a fellow musician last month to perform free of charge at a benefit concert for pianist Paul Cardall — whom some fellow LDS musicians may consider to be "the competition" — the answer "left me with goose bumps," Dixon said.

"I'd pay money myself to come and do that show," came the reply.

When at least two dozen local musicians, producers, sound and lighting technicians and cameramen came together this week at Cottonwood High School, they added their silent "amens" to the reply Dixon heard. Each left without a dime in their pockets, though the concert was a sellout.

"Living for Eden," as the show was dubbed, was a full-blown community effort to raise money for their friend and fellow musician, whose damaged heart won't beat much longer. Cardall and his family — including his 3-year-old daughter, Eden — are waiting for a phone call that says a donor heart is waiting to be transplanted into his chest. It's his last shot at being able to see his daughter grow up. After living for more than three decades with congenital heart disease, he's undergone 28 operations and seven open-heart surgeries.

While Cardall's spirit is strong, his heart grows weaker by the day.

Peter Breinholt explained the connections between fellow artists in a backstage interview before his own performance.

"I got a call a month ago from Jeremy Baron," Cardall's friend and former business partner who got the benefit ball rolling. "He told me Paul was in trouble. But what Jeremy didn't realize was that behind the scenes, production people got wind of it and it started rolling. Graphic designers, artists and all of them started calling. We had to turn people away from helping out with this. There were lots of other performers that would love to have been here."

It was a decade ago, when Breinholt had established himself and Cardall was an up-and-coming wannabe, that they first met. "He started asking if he could drive with us to shows. We went to Rexburg to perform and Paul came along. He didn't play, he just wanted to learn the music trade. After a four-hour drive up and back, we were friends."

Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band, another local group, was on the same trip. It was the initial meeting for all of them.

"Fast forward seven years, and Paul is the guy who has a recording label, who's signing people, who has Billboard charting albums. He's an expert with Web sites and online distribution. We've all asked for help from him in those areas. The people who he had once tagged along with are now asking him for advice."

Sam Payne, another local artist who served as master of ceremonies for the concert, said Cardall was instrumental in helping him develop his latest album.

"We never have perceived each other as the competition. Our acquaintance is around the kitchen table. We share plans and music. I think we feel a lot of love for one another and the other's music, and that makes it a pleasure to be together."

While Payne and his fellow musicians could try to grow their reputations outside Utah, "making music in this community with these people far outstrips the bottom line, at least for me." Though most would question the size of the local music market, "somehow enough grows here to fill everyone's pockets, so we can play as friends and not as competitors. That's one of my great blessings as a musician."

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