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Heartbeat: Auction for local musician goes viral

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Asa and Mike - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Although I was Indianapolis born and raised (and I love my city dearly), the four years I spent in Bloomington were pretty wonderful. A large part of this is due to the flourishing music community that is at the core of the town. This musical community has come together for musician Mike Adams and his wife Jessica, who, after the birth of their baby boy Asa, discovered he would need surgery to correct a congenital heart condition.

All is well now for Asa, but modern medicine comes at a price. As they began to adjust to life with a new addition, Dan Coleman of Spirit of '68 Promotions took a show that was already put together pre-Asa and turned it into a benefit for the new family. An online auction featuring exclusive donations from musicians from all over the world has been running, in addition to the show. The auction will conclude on Sunday evening, with a viewing of the items at The Atlas Bar in Bloomington as the show takes place at The Bishop Bar at the same time.

A few of the items featured in the auction include: two tickets to every Spirit of '68 show next year; many original pressings of records from various bands; a recording session at Russian Recording; and a personal photo session with a very bloggable (and very cute) cat named Bub. At the time of this writing, the total auction proceeds total over $3,300, with the possibility of climbing much higher.

I spoke with Mike Adams and Dan Coleman to get the scoop on the auction, Asa and why Bloomington is just so great.

NUVO: First, if you could tell a brief history of Asa's birth and medical conditions.
Mike Adams: My wife's pregnancy was a picture of perfect health. We had no indication that anything was wrong with Asa until we went to the hospital to fish him out (he was 10 days late). They noticed his heart rate slowing, and nearly stopping, during some contractions, so they decided on an emergency c-section. Once they got him out, they noticed that his color wasn't as pink as they like. The docs ran some tests and determined that he had transposition of the greater vessels, a congenital heart defect. So, he and I were transported to Riley while mom recovered from surgery in Bloomington. All within a few hours of his birth! After that, we lived at Riley for about 25 days while he underwent three heart surgeries, including a pretty massive open heart surgery. He's basically recovered now, and doing well, but he'll see a cardiologist, at least yearly, for the rest of his life to keep an eye on things.

NUVO: How were you supported by musicians and friends when Asa was having surgery/undergoing treatment?
Mike Adams:There were actually a lot of friends and family at the hospital with us even for Asa's birth, so we had a constant net of support even from the very beginning. We had no shortage of visitors at Riley, musicians and otherwise, the whole time we were there. We actually had so much food donated and prepared for us by our loved ones while we were there that we couldn't use it all! We were able to make a sizable donation of food and toiletries to the Ronald McDonald house before we left.

NUVO: What is the total (as of this point) amount owed in medical bills?
Mike Adams:We still don't know yet, actually. I've seen the amount that was turned in to our insurance company, and it's huge. I've never seen my name next to a number that big before, that's for sure. I'm still not sure what percentage of that we'll be responsible for.

NUVO:How much do you expect this auction/benefit to raise?
Mike Adams:Oh, gosh, I have no idea! The support from our friends and family so far has been completely overwhelming. Anything that comes in from this benefit will be more than we deserve.

NUVO:How have your friends/musicians/XRA associates responded in your time of need?
Mike Adams:I really love what Bloomington uniquely has to offer the world creatively, musically, artistically...but, what Bloomington has offered me in 10 years is a wealth of close, true friends and positively influential people. I love making music and being involved in a community of folks who are obsessed with musical creativity, but if Bloomington wasn't full of my friends, I couldn't live here. I need to be where my friends are. Luckily, Bloomington has attracted the kind of people I want to surround my family with, who also happen to be interested in music!

NUVO:You've also received a significant amount of support online. I've seen Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook posts. Where did this rush of support come from? Has it been surprising?
Mike Adams:It hasn't been surprising to see a thing like this happen around here, but for this amount of support and involvement to happen because of me and my family has been a surprise. When Evan Farrell tragically passed away a few years ago, a lot of the same people involved in this benefit for us were involved in some support activities for his family. There is no shortage of sincere golden hearts in this town, and these sorts of noteworthy benefits are just an easily visible example of the kind of support and generosity that my friends show one another on a smaller scale everyday, if you ask me.

Healthy, but expensive baby. - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Dan Coleman: The response has been overwhelming. It's not just the things that have been donated, it's people that I haven't met reaching out to donate or spread the word. Tom Sharpling and Marc Maron tweeting the link and people reaching out to blogs to get it out there.

NUVO: How did Spirit of '68 become involved?
Mike Adams:This show originated as Dan's idea for a "baby shower show." Ben and Sarah from Tammar, and Eric from Quran Quran each had little ones a few months before Asa was born, so Dan thought a new-parents' rock night would make for a fun evening. Dan actually proposed this idea to us while we were at Riley before he even knew what was going on with us. After I filled him in, Ben and Eric suggested it be a benefit for my family, and Dan absolutely blew the lid off the idea, creating the auction in addition to the show.

Dan Coleman: Tammar and Qur'an Qur'an decided to make the show a benefit show for Mike Adams. With the show in place I decided to go all out and put together an auction to go with. We did something similar for the family of Evan Farrell when he passed.

NUVO:What new music are you working on? Have you completely stalled recording/working in light of Asa's medical complications?
Mike Adams:No, I couldn't do that. I actually had a guitar with me at Riley and wrote some new songs while we were there. Music isn't something I can think of outside of my everyday life, it's just a part of it. A part that's very important to me, psychologically and in this case, therapeutically. My uncle was sick and died last year. All through his illness, my aunt had to continue going to her job everyday at the bank where she works. That really upset me, but it also challenged me. I don't make a lot of money playing music, but I would say that it defines a massive part of "what I do." I think it would have been bad for my family for me to stop working while things were difficult for us. There's going to be a lot of music in my son's life, which he will grow up to embrace or reject, but he's stuck with it for now!

As for projects I'm working on, I've finished recording a new solo album since we returned to Bloomington. I was in the midst of it when Asa was born. My band, husband&wife, is writing a new record, and I've been doing some recording with Frank Schweikhardt. I've also had the privilege of doing some shows with Tammar as a substitute drummer. Life is more busy now than ever!

NUVO: What makes Bloomington such a special place?
Mike Adams:I can't pinpoint any simple or obvious reason that Bloomington is the way it is, but it's a very small town, in reality, that's still very active. [This is] thanks in part to the University. If you're going to live here and be involved, you're going to know a lot of people and interact with them frequently. It makes disappearing into the ether very difficult, in a good way. I think most everyone here wants to be a good neighbor and join in the fun. Its a very good way to live.

Dan Coleman: It's a good feeling when fans, musicians and strangers across the country can come together for a good cause. People can get their hands on some rare memorabilia and a family gets a little financial relief after ushering their healthy son into the world - it's a win-win for everyone involved.

NUVO: What do you think is the most special item up for grabs? What would you love to have?
Mike Adams:All of the stuff is completely great, and I can't believe the amount of valuable things that our friends and friends-of-friends have donated to our cause. I'd be the proud owner of any of these items, but the honest truth is that what the things in this auction represent for me is more valuable than anything I could ever own. I've got an entire town's worth (or more) of beautiful people rallying around my family in our time of need. Hospital bills or not, I'll be working for money for the rest of my life. But, the amount of love I've seen in my life, and especially at this moment, leaves me a very rich young man.

Dan Coleman: The thing I want most is the hang with my friend's cat Bub because that cat is INSANELY cute. But from an actual cool standpoint, the slew of test pressings that have come our way, from Bon Iver to Starflyer 59 to Damien Jurado. K records coming through with 2 days at Dub Narcotic Studios and having Jens Lekman personally send out of print 7" didn't suck. It's cool to open your mail and find a package of signed Tallest Man On Earth CDs that he sent himself from Sweden.

NUVO: Tell me about Mike Adams.
Dan Coleman: I will defer to Megan Downey on this one:

"Mike Adams is a longtime fixture in the Bloomington music scene. He plays as Mike Adams at his Honest Weight (#48 on Amazon's best of 2011 list) and runs the boutique Crossroads of America label (XRA) as well. He has played in a slew of bands, most notably Husband & Wife and, most recently, has been occupying the drum seat in Tammar while Sarah Swanson is on maternity leave. His days are spent taping government meetings for the local cable access channel.

Jessica Adams is a social worker who is currently getting her masters in social work. In addition to that, she is employed with Positive Link, where she has spent the last five years caring for HIV and AIDS patients of Southern Indiana.

I think everyone who's ever met Mike & Jess can agree that we're all better because of it. I'm not one to gush, but I'm going to: These are two of the kindest, most supportive and generous people I've ever had the privilege of knowing."

NUVO: How did you start the auction?
Dan Coleman: I started by asking my friends and connections in the industry if they had anyone who would be willing to donate and it just spiraled with them telling people who told people until things started rolling in.

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