Let's be frank, I'm knee-deep in the Joey's Song project. But it's such a worthwhile cause that I'm going to throw caution to the wind and give you an update. Of course, also telling you upfront that I know the founder of The Joseph Gomoll Foundation well, that I know the co-founder of Omnivore Records and that I wrote the liner notes to Volume 2 of the CD series, which also includes a song by a band I've been in.
Mike Gomoll established The Joseph Gomoll Foundation in honor of his son Joey, who away unexpectedly on March 30, 2010. Joey was afflicted with Dravet's Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy his entire life, and doctors were never able to get his seizures completely under control. Dravet's robbed Joey of most of his ability to speak, but it did not stop him from communicating with everyone he met, and it most certainly never prevented him from laughing, smiling, singing or dancing.
"Because music was the centerpiece of Joey's world, there is no better way for us to raise money in his name than through music," says Mike.
Gomoll issued a pair of compilation CDs – one with "adult" music and the other with songs aimed at a much younger audience – last year and the quality of the music, the quality of the packaging and the fact that Mike worked tirelessly to make them a reality were all a testament to his commitment to go toe to toe with epilepsy. Almost all the tracks on the four CDs are exclusive to Joey's Song.
The goal of The Joseph Gomoll Foundation is to raise money in support of organizations focused on seizure research and special needs children. Other than the costs of production, every penny from the sale of Joey's Song is used for research, treatment and support to find a cure and help those affected by seizure disorders.
A portion of the money raised will also go directly to Gio's Garden, a respite care center providing specialized services for families with special needs children.
Now Volume 2 is on its way. Actually, I should say "are on their way," because, again, there are two discs (the full track lists are below). What Gomoll found was that if he could speak directly to artists, they throw their full support behind the project.
"As I have told Joey's story to all of these great artists – Grammy winners, Juno winners, Top 10 artists, Hall of Fame inductees – each and every one responded from the heart. Many went into the studio and recorded new material just for us. Others gave us tracks they said they were 'saving for something special' and some even gave us live versions of their top 40 hits. While the cause is great and the help we can provide is absolutely necessary, the music on all four volumes stands on its own. Most of these tracks can only be found on our CDs, I find that amazing!"
New this time around is that Omnivore Records, the EMI-distributed label started by Milwaukee ex-pat Cheryl Pawelski will release the CDs, helping spread the message even further and, therefore, helping to raise even more money for the battle against epilepsy.
"Joey's story moved all of us at Omnivore deeply, and we felt that if music was Mike's personal way to express his love for Joey, we would be there to help in any way we could," Pawelski tells me. " We're grateful to the artists who have donated their work, so together we could create the Joey's Song series and help raise money for epilepsy research and advocacy."
"Joey's Song Volume 2:"
- Sam Phillips – Lying
- Willie Wisely – No Surprise
- Mark Olson – No Water No Wood
- Rosanne Cash – Seven Year Ache (Live)
- Peter Bradley Adams – New Orleans
- The Small Ponds – Loud Boy
- Gary Louris – In The Canyon (Live)
- Mark Erelli – Once (Live)
- Star & Micey – Love
- Carrie Elkin – Jesse Likes Birds
- Trespassers William – Far Too Far
- Holly Beth Vincent – Carefree
- Giant Sand – Love Knows No Borders
- Pete Droge – Under The Waves
- Mark Kozelek – Hastings-On-Hudson (Summer 2000)
"Joey's Song For Kids Volume 2:"
- The Knack – The Spinning Song
- The Weirdo Deluxe – There's A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea
- Martha Davis – Wiggly Wah
- Robbie Schaefer – La La Love
- Bryan Cole – Return To Pooh Corner
- Freedy Johnson – Sparky The Heroic Dog
- Joe Bainbridge – Not Afraid Of Nothing
- The Handsome Family – Snowball
- The Baseball Project – Take Me Out To The Ballgame
- The Sursiks – The Cat Went In The Hole
- Robbins & Glazer – B-I-N-G-O
- Wynn Taylor – Little Red Wagon
- The Yell Leaders – Pick Yourself Up
- The Bazillions – Candy Garden
- Eddie Kilgallon – Bye Bye Day
- Sam Llanas – Child Asleep
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.