"It means so much to be able to help out..." 

In September of 2002, Savannah’s Benedictine Military School celebrated its 100th year of operations. With a distinguished history spanning more than a century, it’s a cinch this Catholic high school’s alumni would maintain an extremely strong bond to their alma mater.

It’s that bond that comes into play when one of their own is in need. Like now.

“It’s very much a brotherhood. It means so much to be able to help out a fellow B.C. student,” says Andrew Gill.

Gill, who also sings lead and plays rhythm guitar for the upstart local band WormsLoew, says that feeling of kinship helped motivate his group to headline two related benefit concerts this weekend.

The recipient of their good deeds? Recent B.C. graduate Matt Anderson.

The multi-talented Anderson – who graduated in 2000 with Gill’s older brother, has since been majoring in music at Valdosta State University, according to his friend, Stephen Donahue, who is helping to organize both events.

“He’s a really great guy,” says Donahue. “He rides the unicycle, and he can play the guitar and the piano.”

Donahue says Anderson came down unexpectedly with strong seizures in June during a visit home, and doctors were forced to place him in an artificially-induced coma to help his body recover. He was eventually diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy (or ALD), a progressive, genetic disorder affecting the adrenal gland and the nervous system.

Sometimes known as Schilder's disease, it is often fatal. Donahue says Anderson’s case is unusual in that this form of the disease rarely strikes those over ten years of age.

“It turns out he’s one of the oldest people they know of who’s come down with it. It’s much more common in kids.”

Treatment led the Anderson family to Minnesota, where Matt underwent a bone marrow transplant two months ago in an effort to repair his immune system.

It also led Donahue and others to join forces in an effort to help his friend’s family with their massive medical costs. The organizers have been thrilled with the outpouring of local support they’ve received – and it’s caused them to expand their initial idea into a two-day event.

“We started making some calls, and the Benedictine community has proven to be just amazing. Matt’s church – Isle of Hope Methodist – has given us so much help as well. In one week, we went from a couple of guys trying to solicit donations from friends to holding a Lowcountry Boil for up to 1,000 people.”

The main fundraiser takes place on Saturday, when local bands will provide live entertainment for an Oyster Roast and Barbecue on the school grounds. However, many people are unaware that the night before, headliner WormsLoew will play a smaller, more low-key show at Café Loco, a funky restaurant and bar on Tybee Island’s Lazaretto Creek that is known for booking regional roots-rock bands. It’s a less expensive option for those who can’t afford or simply can’t make the pricier cookout.

The members of WormsLoew are looking forward to both shows.

The up-and-coming group has only been together for a year-and-a-half, but they’ve already played several established area nightspots, such as O’Connell’s Irish Pub, and the now-defunct Malone’s.

The quartet’s stock-in-trade is driving, twangy barnburners that could be termed “Southern rock”, but which have more in common with the crunch of hard Americana acts like Athens’ The Drive-By Truckers (an avowed influence) or The Tinfoil Stars, than defining ‘70s groups of the genre like The Outlaws or Blackfoot.

Gill says the group has over a dozen original tunes that they mix in with almost three times as many covers by The Band, Gov’t Mule, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller, The Eagles and Neil Young.

When asked to describe WormsLoew’s approach to songcraft, Gill struggles a bit before admitting the musician’s varied tastes makes it tough to pin down.

“We love The Allman Brothers, and we love Widespread Panic. I guess we’re part of that whole Americana, Y’allternative, hick-rock thing... Put it this way: we love Metallica, and we love Willie Nelson.”

They’re in the process of recording a low-budget album in local musician Jeff Beasley’s home studio, and despite looming college plans, Gill says they’re planning on keeping the band together – no mater how hard that might be.

“To tell you the truth,” he reveals, “we believe we have something that’s worth too much to just throw away.”

WormsLoew plays Tybee’s Café Loco Friday from 9 -11 p.m. This is an ALL-AGES show, and all of the $5 cover charge will go directly to the Anderson family to help defray their medical costs.


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Jim Reed

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