The Puget Sound music community is coming together to support some of its own Sunday.
Twelve hours of music, comedy and other entertainment at Dave’s of Milton will benefit the family of local musician Eddie Mendoza. He and his family are dealing with the death of his 22-year-old son, Alex, and the resulting financial hardships.
Friend and local musician Gary Edwards began organizing the fundraising event Jan. 8 while Alex was in a Tucson, Arizona, hospital fighting a bacterial infection. Edwards was taken aback by the rapid response from the music community. About $7,000 has already been donated, Edwards said.
“(The benefit) took on a life of its own. I literally had 30 bands in a three-hour window,” Edwards said.
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Alex died Jan. 9, following 17 days of hospitalization in Tucson, his hometown.
Eddie Mendoza and his fiancée, Aury Moore, are fixtures in the South Sound music scene. In addition to regular performances, the Aury Moore Band (Mendoza is the drummer) plays at as many as eight benefits a year.
Now, Edwards is asking the community to help them.
“Eddie Mendoza and Aury Moore are truly the soul of the music scene, at least in our hearts,” Edwards said. “In just a flash of a second, their lives are upside down, and the expenses are the furthest things on their hearts, but reality is reality.”
Funds raised will go to pay for funeral costs, lost income and outstanding medical bills.
Eddie Mendoza and his ex-wife, Alex’s mother Catherine Morrow, have not been shy about discussing the root cause of Alex’s illness: heroin addiction.
“He was nurtured, loved and cared for, supported and encouraged in almost every way. Yet he died from a bacteria that he got from a lifestyle that he chose,” Mendoza said. “Unless we talk openly and honestly about it, information doesn’t get out. It’s not something you hope to talk about with people. But it’s reality.”
The drug use led to the infection which in turn ravaged Alex’s lungs. Making it harder for Eddie Mendoza was the fact he had intimate knowledge of what was happening to his son’s body. Eddie works as a respiratory therapist for Tacoma General Hospital.
“It was a humbling disparity because I couldn’t help his lungs. That’s what I do on my day job. But it was something I have seen before (from drug and alcohol abuse).”
Before substance abuse changed him, Mendoza said his son was “intense from day one.”
“He was one of those high-functioning kind of kids with an extraordinary aptitude. He was playing baseball at age 1 and a half and pitching to himself,” Mendoza said.
Alex went on to become a talented baseball pitcher and bowler. But at 18, he began drinking alcohol, and around age 20 was introduced to heroin, Eddie said.
When Alex’s behavior started to change, his family became aware of his addictions. Eddie had Alex move in with him in Seattle in 2014, but the change of environment didn’t help.
“The girlfriend he was dating seemed to have connections everywhere they went. It didn’t take them long to find heroin in the Seattle area,” Mendoza said.
“Once I gave him the tough love and put my foot down and not tolerate certain behavior, he just ran away back to Tucson,” Mendoza said.
Though Mendoza didn’t ask for Sunday’s benefit and doesn’t yet know what kind of money it will raise, it’s already had a good effect.
“It’s really kind of overwhelming. To see this kind of outpouring in just several days and the momentum it’s picked up is amazing and humbling. I don’t see this in too many communities I’ve lived in.”
Sunday’s show at Dave’s will feature more than 30 acts and a finale with Roger Fisher of Heart, Jerry Miller of Moby Grape, and other notable local musicians. It also has a long list of sponsors, including Seattle’s American Music, which is providing sound and musical equipment.
Once Mendoza and Moore return to performing, they will continue to volunteer their talents at benefits for other people and causes.
“It makes me want to do something positive for the community. For me, it’s all about sharing love and positive energy,” Mendoza said.