Tommy Strong Festival for Brain Cancer Awareness
Where: Forsyth Park
When: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday, June 29
Admission: Free (donations appreciated)
Info: See the event Facebook page
Andrew Gill is a member of one of our area's most exclusive clubs: Musicians who don't have to work day jobs. The 27-year-old native Savannahian has been gigging since he was 15, and his agreeable way with a guitar, his rich vocals and his charismatic stage presence add up to a guy people would pay to see. And they do.
Just last week, he was onstage six nights out of seven. “I’m not complaining at all,” Gill says with a smile. “It sure as hell beats making half the money and working 40 hours.”
On June 29, Sunday, he’ll be onstage at Forsyth Park, part of an all-day, 11-band benefit concert called the Tommy Strong Music Festival For Brain Cancer Awareness.
The Andrew Gill Band will share the spotlight with Waits & Co., Outlaw Gypsy, 2 Tone Fish, 3rd Class Citizen, Jon Lee & the Apparitions, Wassaw Sound, the Blurry Aftermath, the Immaculate Fix, Rye House and Zan. The event starts at 11 a.m. and will wind down around 12 hours later.
It’s free, but donations will be appreciated. It’s being organized by friends of Tommy Kim, a former Army Special Forces soldier who attended South University here in Savannah, and worked for several years at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Which is where he made lots and lots of friends.
Kim moved to Austin in 2013, and this past January was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. The tumor was completely removed in February, followed by stretches of intense chemotherapy. At the moment, he is cancer-free.
This is a guy who served two tours of duty in Africa and Afghanistan, who plunged down a rocky, 30-foot cliff and was subsequently told he would never walk again.
A fitness nut and an eternal optimist, he defied the odds. Eleven months and a lot of hard work later, he was back on his feet.
And that’s why the organizers—Kim’s Savannah pals —are calling it the Tommy Strong Festival. Because he is.
Andrew Gill, meanwhile, has never met Tommy Kim – but like most of the musicians who’ll be performing on the bandshell stage, as soon as he heard the man’s story, he signed on the dotted line. And he’s not getting paid on what would otherwise be a rare day off.
Gill was a founding member of Wormsloew, an Americana-fused rock ‘n’ roll band that burned brightly in the mid to late 2000s, around the time Tommy Kim was studying anesthesiology at South U.
Those were the days, my friend. Wormsloew had a lot of fans. “It was a cool thing, but seven years later I guess it just kinda fell apart,” explains Gill. “Music tastes change just like your taste buds do.”
The Andrew Gill Band includes Wormsloew bassist Kevin Arpin. The rest of the old band has scattered to the wind ... although they still reunite for one of two events every year.
In 2010, as Wormsloew was falling apart, Gill was asked to fill in with Junkyard Angel, whose lead guitarist Scotty Rahn was on medical leave. He played with the band — which includes brothers Stewart and Jim Marshall—for about a year.
“Out of that, we formed the Marshall Brothers Band, because it was so fun doing three-part harmonies,” he recalls. “I guess I’m an honorary Marshall at this point.”
Area vendors will have food and drink for sale at Sunday’s event.
For more on the incredible Tommy Kim, see a feature story at www.thechive.com.A founding member of the late, great band Wormsloew, Andrew Gill has been playing music professionally since the age of 15.A former Army Special Forces soldier, Tommy Kim attended South University and worked at St. Joseph's Hospital here in Savannah.