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Musicians rally for one of their own

Area musicians have a shared vision for a special concert to help a fellow in the community with his medical bills to prevent his loss of sight.

“Jingles for James – A Benefit Gala Spectacular,” at 3 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 901 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, was arranged for James “Bull” Canty, a local trumpeter who needs sight-saving eye surgery.

Tim Koch, beginning his 13th year as music director and conductor of the Carolina Master Chorale, said this effort represents his and many other local music makers’ heartfelt desire to make a difference for someone who has stood out in the community.

Familiar with the continuing cause of fundraising for the Chorale, Koch said last summer that Canty contacted him asking for ideas to round up some money. Koch said Canty, who copes with diabetes, has a degenerative retinal condition called traction retinal detachment that medical officials have said would eventually would lead to total blindness.

Remembering the kind remittances from people to whom Koch and friends and colleagues sent pleas for some help, Koch said enough funds, including some anonymously, were gathered so Canty could have his left eye repaired through a vitrectomy, at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“It came down to the last second,” Koch said, “on the day before the surgery. ... It worked out.”

Koch said Canty is primarily a freelance musician who balances a hardship with meeting medical costs, and that he plays his horn regularly at many local venues, so being able to read music matters heavily.

Having approached Canty this year to help with a follow-up surgery, on his right eye, estimated at $9,000, Koch suggested giving the public a concert with “a really good trumpet player” joining a slew of local musicians from the Chorale, Long Bay Symphony, Coastal Carolina University, Grand Strand bands U-N-I and Soul Function, and area churches.

‘Photographic memory’

“Who knows how much we can raise?” Koch said, who remembered when he first met Canty.

Koch said his church had needed a trumpet player, and James Tully, a band official from CCU, recommended a man “who goes by the nickname of Bull” and whom Koch has since concluded has a “photographic memory” in reading sheet music.

Another time, Koch, said, for a singing event at Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach for the Naval Mine Warfare Association, honoring mine sweepers who served Allied forces in World War II, a trumpeter was sought to accompany the choir and play taps. Koch said he composed a trumpet part “to go along with a song we’d sing” and that Canty looked at the music for 10 minutes, then later “played it from memory and didn’t miss a note.”

Koch said Canty also had done the same memorization seeing his part at 8 a.m., then delivering perfectly at an 8:30 a.m. church service.

He saluted Canty for tooting his horn in “a really good classical style,” whether in the Sunshine Brass Quartet or a funk band.

Koch said he just wants to help a friend.

“If I can help somebody else’s life out,” he said, “my life gets blessed by it.”

Canty called this outpouring of support for the concert by “a community of musicians” this weekend “pretty awesome.”

He said trumpet “identifies part of who I am, because I’ve made a lifelong commitment to it.”

Maynard Ferguson’s might

As a young adult attending a concert by the late Maynard Ferguson, Canty said seeing that trumpet music live “spoke to me in a way I had never heard.”

Canty, who also learned to play the trombone, baritone and tuba,” said the trumpet cast the strongest bond with him. He brought up biblical trumpet references with angels and that the horns would sound the arrival of someone in a room in medieval ages, and how collectively that power of the instrument engrossed his concentration.

Hoping to stir more brass interest among children, Canty said with many rock bands on the local scene, he wants to keep finding “very creative ways to make brass work in rock.” With his own Shoreline Brass Band, “that’s my way of making wind instruments mainstream.”

“We play rock tunes in a rock and brass format,” he said.

Eager to play among the performers this Sunday, he’s grateful to be involved in “the overall production” as a performance for the public.

“Really, at the end of the day,” Canty said, “no matter what the fliers say, it’s not about me. It’s about the music message for everybody.”