By Anthony Small
Over the years, I’ve played many, many gigs, but never one with cancer. I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma on Oct. 27 this year and had the honor to again play and curate the smaller musical stages at REDO Market on Oct 30.
Watching all the smiling people pass by in the Lantern District on that beautiful day, a magical moment occurred while I played my newest song, “Don’t Give Up.” Written weeks before my diagnosis, the song is intended to encourage anyone fighting a battle—and let’s face it, almost everyone is, whether others know about it or not.
On stage at that moment, I had this intense feeling of peace, that everything was going to be OK, if I stayed positive and didn’t give up. It was a spiritual experience with music as the conduit, and it made me realize, even more than usual, how grateful I am for music, our community, my family and friends and, indeed, for my wonderful life.
My cancerous right kidney was removed on Nov. 18, and I didn’t find out for sure until the Monday after Thanksgiving that the cancer was contained in that kidney and, thank God, had not spread. Phew! Talk about a test for this emotional guy’s composure, patience, and faith.
The overwhelming support, positivity, and healing prayers of so many lifted me above any lurking fear and doubt. It reminded me so much of the support we received when my wife, Bonnie, successfully battled breast cancer in 2017. I again cannot thank you all enough for the love.
This year finishes with the incredible news that Music Preserves Foundation has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Dr. Seuss Foundation to expand our American Music History programs in Capistrano Unified School District and beyond via online curriculum.
Thanks to your support, Music Preserves will continue our in-school programs, sharing the rich multicultural history of blues, jazz, country, soul, rock, rap, and more. I’m especially excited to explore and share the incredible history of surf music and Chicano music as we grow our program.
The Dr. Seuss grant, along with the support from Live Nation and Ohana Festival, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation, the City of Dana Point, Laguna Beach SchoolPower, Cox Communications and so many others, are what allows the sustained effort of Music Preserves to inspire and educate our community through the preservation and presentation of music.
More info can be found at musicpreserves.org and on Instagram @musicpreserves.
Getting to meet Eddie Vedder at this year’s Ohana Festival and thank him and his team for the support and encouragement was lifetime highlight-reel stuff.
Our Music Preserves “Summer Jams” concert series with Ocean Institute was another highlight and something I hope continues for years to come.
Personally, I want to thank Festival of Whales, REDO Market (twice), Dana Point Chamber of Commerce, Dana Point Woman’s Club and United Way for the opportunity and blessing of playing my music for our community this year. Dana Point ROCKS!
I know it’s cliché, but there are some amazing things coming in 2023, and I can’t wait to share all the details with you in my next column. Remember to dream big and then do something about it—and that it’s never too late to be what you might have been.
Anthony Small is Executive Director and co-founder of Music Preserves Foundation, and a local musician. Small and his family have lived in Dana Point for 25 years.
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