Monday, April 22, 2024

‘Stand Together Against Cancer: The Concert For Matt Long’ Gigs in May & June 2024

Catfish are rising stars in the British blues-rock world and front man Matt Long is the brightest in the constellation with multiple music industry awards to his name. 

With headline shows and festival appearances throughout the year across the UK and Europe, Catfish are much in demand as they work to a relentless schedule of touring and recording in the studio with a new EP on the way. Imagine, then, the shock for the whole industry when Matt was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year. 

He fought on, took a break from live shows and awaited his latest set of tests earlier this year to give him the all clear so he could get back to what he loves - delivering dazzling, breathtaking performances that showcase his absolutely mastery of the art.

On 19th March, the news arrived. In Matt’s words, “So. Bad news. I’ve had my results back from my latest scan. The cancer has survived the chemo and has spread into my liver and stomach lining. It’s a very aggressive cancer it turns out…

I had my consultation call the other day. After telling me this, they were talking about my options. Both of which were talking about either extending life through more chemo or stopping treatment and enjoying what time I have left… Which they said could be probably some time near the end of the year…”

Matt is 29 years old. To balance this news against the raw talent is unthinkable. Matt explains that there is a possibility of a third option, an experimental immunotherapy approach which requires sending tissue samples to the US for a tailored treatment. The probability of full recovery with this treatment is 15%. Now, be honest, if you had a 15% chance, what would you do? You would take it. You would do everything in your power, even for a 1% chance.

Matt’s own words are a heart-breaking call to action. “Not going to lie, I’ve been very much in despair the last couple of days. There was a part of me that really thought that call was going to be good news rather than the worst news. And yes for that first day I very much had multiple huge breakdowns, as I thought I was going to die. Even now after the reveal of the option giving me a very slim chance at survival, I do still feel terrified. There is still a very real chance that I won’t make it… But it would be stupid not to attempt that option and give it my all to work towards that 15%. I also acknowledge that I am incredibly lucky to be in a position that I can even think about affording that option.

I have a lot to live for. And a lot of loved ones to live for. So I will do everything in my power to try and do so. The odds may be against me but any chance is still a chance. 15%…”

According to SU2C, one in two people will be affected by cancer at some point in their lives. Perhaps most people think that this will happen very late in their lives, if ever. Few could imagine such a dramatic impact so early in life.

The response from the music community has been incredible. First came a crowd funding campaign which hit its initial target within days, encouraging Matt’s family to raise the target. The campaign is still running -

The second wave of support came in the form of an auction of music memorabilia, donated by fans and fellow musicians. Auction Direct will be hosting the online auction which runs from Monday 6th May until Sunday 12th May featuring items such as instruments, artwork, signed photos and set lists, a Vera Black hat, a signed Kate Bush book and even a wolf head as worn on stage by Red Butler.

The third fundraising push involves many other musicians and venues who have joined forces to stage a series of benefit concerts across the UK. Five shows are currently planned and all income from the shows will go directly towards Matt’s medical treatment fund.

The way that the community has joined together to support Matt offers a glimmer of hope - that what affects one of us affects all of us, and that if you can face life’s challenges and ask for help, that help will come.

Wednesday 8th May 2024 - The Wrotham Arms, Broadstairs, Kent

Zac Schulze, Phil Woolett/John Doe Trio, Katie Bradley, Nigel Feist, Dave Good, Dudley Ross

Call Jackie on 07814 344 969 for tickets and more information

Sunday 19th May 2024 - Thames Side Brewery, Staines

Elles Bailey, Laurence Jones, Greg Coulson, Mike Ross, Alice Armstrong, True Strays, Martin Abrahams Band, Demi Marriner, Thomas Heppell

Saturday 1st June 2024 - The Bear Club, Mill Yard, 24A Guildford St, Luton LU1 2NR

John Verity (Argent), Del Bronham (Stray), Robin Bibi, The Big Wolf Band (UK Blues Award Nominees 2024)

Friday 28th June 2024 - The Forum Music Centre, Borough Road, Darlington, DL1 1SG

Jamie Pipe (The Mentulls & Danny Bryant), Steve Amadeo (Aynsley Lister & Ian Parker Bands), Alvin Sephton (More T Vicar & The Defenders), The Wilson Brothers, John Verity, Rebecca Downes, Andrew Pipe, Emma Wilson, Lorna Fothergill

Sunday 30th June 2024 - The Stables, Stockwell Ln, Wavendon, Milton Keynes MK17 8LU

Brave Rival, Kris Barras, When Rivers Meet, Will Wilde, Chantel McGregor, The Cinelli Brothers, Ben Poole, Alice Armstrong

Peter Freeth



Images: Peter Freeth

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