Jack's Mannequin front man, Andrew McMahon, was at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Calif., in October, singing over what looked like a sold-out audience, packed shoulder to shoulder. At one point he stood on top of his piano while pounding out one of his band's surging pop-rock anthems. Watching him whip the crowd into a frenzy, it was difficult to realize that just a handful of years earlier the 27-year-old had been diagnosed with a frequently fatal type of bone cancer.
That brush with mortality, McMahon says by phone from his home in Los Angeles, is partly why he's trying to help another ailing musician, Richmonder Dan Duggins, whose recent stroke left the drummer mostly paralyzed.
Jack's Mannequin performs a benefit concert at the Hat Factory on Thursday, June 24, to help raise funds for Duggins, who has no insurance and needs around-the-clock care.
Though Duggins technically lives in New York, he's a longtime and well-known Richmond resident, a former member of the Richmond indie-rock band Lazycain, among others. His roots in the community run wide. Jack's Mannequin's Richmond connection is a little more unusual.
Though Jack's hails from Orange County, Calif., McMahon's band includes three former Richmonders: guitarist Bobby Anderson, bassist Jon Sullivan and drummer Jay McMillan. When McMahon had to put a band together in 2004, he thought of the guys in River City High, another Richmond band he'd toured with in his band Something Corporate. Anderson and McMillan brought Sullivan in.
“While I don't know Dan on the level that we call each other on the phone,” McMahon says, “every time we come through town and he's in town we go out. To see anybody out there in this brotherhood of musicians going through that — it just seemed like a no-brainer.”
The benefit show is part a wide range of efforts by Duggins' friends and family to help out. Anderson, Jack's guitarist, is working with the manufacturer of his guitars, Electric Guitar Co., which makes custom aluminum instruments, to auction off a special guitar.
McMahon knows how important help can be. His sister provided a bone-marrow transplant that helped him overcome his health challenge, leukemia. “It was huge,” McMahon recalls. “You can't really say what happens if the cards fall in the other direction, but it was definitely the bone-marrow transplant that, if it didn't save my life, prevented relapses and a much longer treatment.”
Today McMahon's well enough to leap back onto his piano, although he won't be able to at the Richmond show — only because he'll have to play without a full-blown piano. He promises the show still will be a big one. “I've always been kind of a physical person,” he says. “I'll have all that energy. I might not be able to jump up on the keyboards, but that's the kind of show we'll give.” S
Jack's Mannequin performs at the Hat Factory on June 24. Tickets cost $35. Proceeds benefit the Dan Duggins Fund.