Houston Press’s Chris Gray once wrote that Rudyard’s is beloved by local musicians because of its “commitment to putting the bands first.” He penned that line for an article about Stacy Hartoon, someone who’s made that commitment her highest priority, no matter the position she’s held (and there have been a few) at Rudz. Her devotion to those bands and the bonds which have formed through these professional encounters mean she’s got many friends to lean on in time of need.
Hartoon is Rudyard’s general manager now. She’s better known as “Punk Rock Stacy” to practically anyone who keeps up with Houston’s music business. The venue posted a GoFundMe page in November which shared that she was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. As she began treatment, so began the grassroots initiative among her peers and friends to assist her financially so she could focus on her medical care. Before long, bands were volunteering or being summoned for Stacyfest: A Benefit for Our Friend Punk Rock Stacy. This weekend’s three-night benefit begins Friday and brings more than a dozen bands together to help raise funds to defray Hartoon’s medical bills.
"Stacy started working here at the turn of the century. Starting out as a bar back she quickly moved into bartending and managing,” said Rudyard’s owner Lelia Rodgers, in a written statement. “Punk Rock Stacy has been known throughout the Montrose as the booking manager for performances at Rudyard’s since 2014 and recently becoming the general manager. She’s been the best person to work with and depend on in a tight spot. I love her and count her as my friend.”
Rodgers’ sentiments have been echoed by many in Houston's music community since word of Hartoon’s condition went public. Response to the GoFundMe campaign was so positive that Rudyard’s increased the target goal, which is now $15,000. Donations continue to arrive daily, thanks to more than 1,000 Facebook shares of the campaign. A single update on the page is a brief note from Hartoon, who wrote “I am so grateful for everyone. Thank you for all the donations.”
The benefit event’s lineup is impressive and includes some of Hartoon’s favorite rock acts. Things kick off at 8 p.m. Friday. That evening’s talent includes The Beaumonts, The Killer Hearts, Satanic Overlords of Rock N Roll, The COPS and Something Fierce. Saturday’s bands crank up at 8 p.m. and feature Denim Demons, The Velostacks, Whorehound, Hell's Engine and Poor Dumb Bastards. The event concludes Sunday. Doors are at 5 p.m. and Project Grimm, Slow Future, Cactus Flowers and Only Beast round out the benefit’s bill. Entry is "pay what you can" with a suggested donation of $10 per night. There will also be an auction to help raise funds.
“Aside from playing the show, we’re also donating stuff to the auction they’re putting on, as are many, many other local artists, bands and business owners,” said Danielle Reneé, vocalist for Only Beast. “We all wanna show up for Stacy.”
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That act is already underway, of course. With 100 percent of the event proceeds going to Hartoon, the participating bands are in marketing mode and have been sharing the event page frequently this week. Friends like Michael Dalmon Sims, who booked the benefit’s acts, and Wesley Mitchell, who created a wonderful flier for the event, have contributed their talents.
Walter Carlos is head honcho at Artificial Head Records and the new bassist for Cactus Flowers. He said Hartoon’s friends are eager to help and are staying positive about her prognosis.
“One particular thing I’m looking forward to when Stacy’s back on her feet is how we would tag team during Record Store Day events,” he said. “She would have her list and I would have mine and we would be on the lookout for each other’s records amid the bustle of Record Store Day. When we left to go to different stores we would make sure to be on the lookout for what the other was seeking and text each other our finds!”
Friends looking out for one another, that’s at the heart of Stacyfest: A Benefit for Our Friend Punk Rock Stacy, Friday, January 11 through Sunday, January 13 at Rudyard’s British Pub, 2010 Waugh. Entry is "pay what you can" with a suggested donation of $10 per night.