Local Musicians Come Together For Charalambides' Tom Carter

Rewind: Charalambides Guitarist Tom Carter On the Mend

Some local musicians are rallying to help out one of their own this weekend, and it appears that some good, weird tunes will be a happy side effect for the rest of us.

Tom Carter, guitarist for long-running H-town expatriate avant-gardists Charalambides, fell seriously ill while on tour in Germany earlier this summer, and his recovery has been difficult. A pneumonia-like infection turned septic and spread to the musician's heart, prompting doctors to place him in a drug-induced coma.

Carter ultimately spent 40 days in intensive care in Berlin, and the long-term cardiac complications that resulted remain rather grave. I caught up with him via email this week for an update on his health:

"After the hospital, I entered a three-week physical therapy program to regain enough physical strength to fly back to New York City, which is where I am now," Carter says. "I am much stronger than I was when I entered therapy, but my heart is still far from fully functional. Thus, my abilities to travel, work and perform basic household tasks are limited."

Carter lost his job due to the long hospital stay, and although he has health insurance, it's still unclear how much of his hospital bills it will cover. Luckily, Carter has a lot of friends, and many are springing into action to help.

A quick Google search reveals that benefit concerts to help raise money for his medical bills and recovery have been planned across the country, from San Francisco to Louisville. No less than three such shows have already taken shape here in Houston, and two of them are going down this weekend.

Tonight, locals Project Grimm, the Linus Pauling Quartet, Dead Mineral and Hearts of Animals will take the stage at Rudyard's to raise funds for an irrevocable trust set up in Carter's name to go toward his medical, travel and living expenses during his long recovery process.

LP4 guitarist Ramon Medina, who has known Carter since their college days at UH, helped organize the gig alongside John Cramer of Project Grimm and Sandy Ewen of Weird Weeds.

"Tom is an old friend of ours, and at one point we didn't know what was going to happen--it looked like he was not going to be long for this world," Medina said. "Thankfully that turned around, but right now it's up in the air in terms of what the insurance is going to cover. A lot of people in a lot of places are trying to help, including here in Houston. We're just trying to do our part."

Fans and well-wishers can do their part Friday by making the suggested donation at the door of $10 or by purchasing LP4's new album Bag of Hammers. But it's completely "pay what you can," Medina emphasizes, and no one will be turned away. All of the proceeds will be put into the trust.

The support from local musicians won't end there, however. Another benefit organized by Jonathan Jindra of Binarium will take place tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at the Railyard, featuring performances by experimentalists Sandy Ewen and Damon Smith, noise terrorists Richard Ramirez and Brian Traylor, electronic freaks FLCON FCKER and guitarist Eric Todd. Cover for that show is $5.

But wait! Yet another benefit is being planned for next month by David Dove of Nameless Sound. Rumors are swirling that the enigmatic Jandek may perform at that one, so stay tuned. Despite the unpleasant circumstances, it's shaping up to be a pretty impressive collection of the city's top musical outsiders that's coming together to support a friend.

"The kind of music Tom plays is a very specific kind of genre," Medina said. "It's not the most popular genre, but it's a small, tight-knit community where a lot of people know each other by their first names. He's done a lot of different stuff with a lot of experimental artists, and there are a lot of people who are involved in that community who are concerned about him and want to do whatever they can."

If you can't make it out to one (or both!) of the benefit shows this weekend, you can still help out by visiting HelpTomCarter.org to donate or purchase music. According to the man himself, the support is making a real difference.

"It's been truly amazing!" Carter said. "The financial support has been critical, and all the love from everyone was literally a life-saver."

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith