Kill Kancer amps up its efforts with all-star PSA video, Cedar concert

  • Blog Post by: Chris Riemenschneider
  • April 16, 2014 - 11:55 AM
Karl Mueller, left, played with Soul Asylum at the Rock for Karl concert in 2004 while he was being treated for throat cancer. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Karl Mueller, left, played with Soul Asylum at the Rock for Karl concert in 2004 while he was being treated for throat cancer. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Nearly nine years after Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller died of complications from throat cancer, his memory has become the catalyst for a new organization/website, Kill Kancer, intended to help prevent cancer and promote alternative treatments – with the Twin Cities music scene’s support.

A new PSA video (posted below) was released just in time for Friday’s Kill Kancer fundraiser concert at the Cedar Cultural Center. Instead of some of Mueller’s rock-vet pals, though, the so-called “manifesto” video – put together by local videographer Dan Huiting with Rick Fuller and the Martin-Williams advertising agency -- curiously features a younger cast of local hip-hop and R&B stars, including Slug, Toki Wright, P.O.S., Ashley DuBose and No Bird Sing’s Joe Horton. Karl’s widow, Mary Beth Mueller, said this is a sign of the demographics Kill Kancer will initially target.

Mary Beth Mueller. / Star Tribune file

Mary Beth Mueller. / Star Tribune file

“We really want to reach the areas where it’s most preventable,” Mueller said, pointing to inner-city youths who don’t know about or don’t have access to healthier eating and living habits that can avert cancer.

Among Kill Kancer’s plans are planting gardens in urban areas that lack them, stocking food shelves with healthier items and working with Full Cycle to bring free bicycles into low-income neighborhoods (for the exercise benefits). That’s along with many other goals that Mueller has been dreaming up since Karl’s passing. “I just can’t get past this terrible [expletive] beast that is cancer,” she said.

The origins of Kill Kancer go back to the now-legendary 2004 Rock for Karl benefit/tribute concert at the Quest nightclub a year before Mueller’s death, where Soul Asylum, Golden Smog, Bob Mould, Grant Hart, Paul Westerberg and the Gear Daddies all performed. That set up the Karl Fund, which has funded research for new treatments at the University of Minnesota and now will benefit Kill Kancer.

Mary Beth said a friend’s private grant on the eighth anniversary of Karl’s death last year helped ignite the new efforts. So did last year’s inaugural Kill Kancer concert at the Cedar with Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy (one of their last local sets together), Golden Smog, the Magnolias, Curtiss A and Jordan Gatesmith.

Willie Murphy

Willie Murphy

Now comes the second Kill Kancer concert. Pirner is back in town and has put together a special video presentation to go with his performance at Friday’s show. Willie Murphy, Communist Daughter, Silverback Colony (led by 4onthefloor’s Gabriel Douglas) and Taj Raj are also all lined up to play the show, along with the “special guests.” The $25 tickets are still available.

“There are so many civic-minded, responsible musicians in this town, it’s amazing,” said Mueller, who is working with many of Friday’s performers for the first time. She also noted the irony of music being used to, you know, kill cancer.

“The tobacco companies have been using rock ‘n’ roll to sell their product for 30-40 years,” she said. “This is a great way to turn that around.”

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