Community Cinema Screening of D TOUR in Chicago

Posted on September 21, 2009

Over the weekend, Community Cinema screened the Independent Lens film D TOUR. The film chronicles musician Pat Spurgeon's search for a living kidney donor and the challenges associated with finding a viable match. Find out what happened at the screening from Regional Outreach Coordinator Naomi Walker.

I met Evan Farrell, former Rogue Wave bassist, several years ago when I was visiting an old friend in Bloomington, IN. My friend played in a bluegrass combo with him (they also worked construction together to pay the bills). Evan is not someone you can forget. He was an in-your-face kind of guy with an infectious lust for life. You got the feeling that if things ever got dull, Evan would shake it up in a hurry and not allow complacency to set in anywhere he was at. That was in my previous life, back when I worked at a record label. Having been involved in the underground arts and music scene, 

I am well aware of the health issues faced by struggling artists. Each month there is a benefit at some venue in town for a musician dealing with health care costs. So it was especially important to me that our post-screening discussion included not only the crucial story of organ donation, but also to pass along resources for uninsured or under-insured artists. I found out about the work of Dr. David Hinkamp and his Health in the Arts program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. With a background in occupational health, Dr. Hinkamp cares very deeply about the health of artists, including touring musicians. He LOVED the film––and watched it three times.

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network gladly signed on to partner with the screening. Alison Smith, vice president of operations for Gift of Hope, agreed to be on the panel but didn’t get a chance to view the film and ended up seeing it for the first time with the audience at the Cultural Center. I’m sure it was not easy to have transitioned from the emotional ending of D TOUR to getting up on stage. She added important background statistical information on organ donation and addressed the audience members’ question about what would have happened had Pat not picked up the phone when the perfect match organ became available. She explained that the California Donor Network would have been given an hour to reach Pat before giving up and moving down to the next name on the list. The organ must be transplanted quickly, so thankfully Rogue Wave was not on tour at the time. I wanted a musician on the panel who had dealt with health issues and the struggle for affordable care. 

One of our national partners is the Future of Music Coalition touting their groundbreaking Health Insurance Navigation Tool, which helps musicians understand the insurance terrain in their state and figure out the best course of action for coverage. Tyler Beach, a Chicago musician and songwriter with the bands Leaf Bird, and Leaves, is diabetic and so has to contend with the touring tradition of irregular meals and bad road food. He related to Pat’s story on many levels, particularly Pat’s commitment to music and eschewing the “Plan B.” Our moderator, Carrie Shepherd, asked Dr. Hinkamp if there was ever a time when he advised a musician to give up playing for the sake of their health. He replied “If I said that, that patient would never come back.” That night, at everyone’s favorite community-oriented venue The Hideout, there was a benefit for beloved local musician Lawrence Peters, who recently broke his heel. Several bands ironically played songs by the seminal underground band The Fall in tribute to Lawrence’s accident. In true Chicago benefit tradition, the club was packed. 

-Naomi Walker, Regional Outreach Coordinator 

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