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Musician’s friends rally to his aid

Concert to raise funds for bassist who had stroke

POSTED: August 14, 2014 1:00 a.m.
/Get Out file photo

Mid Life Crisis performs at the Challenged Child and Friends Rock in the Spring concert April 25 at Brenau Amphitheatre. Members are, from left, keyboardist Mike Haynes, bassist Karl Reising, singer Michelle Alexander, drummer Henry Troutman, singer and lead guitarist Allen Nivens, guitarist Mike Gottsman and guitarist Bill Hallowes. The band members will perform a benefit concert this weekend for Reising, who suffered a stroke in May.

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Most musicians credit their bandmates for their growth as artists, but Karl Reising, the bassist for Mid Life Crisis, actually owes his life to his fellow musicians.

The Gainesville man was attending a get-together for band members at guitarist Mike Gottsman’s house when the group realized he was having a stroke. Reising survived the ordeal thanks to his friends’ quick thinking. Now the performers, many of whom are local businessmen or medical professionals, will come together to support Reising in his recovery.

Mid Life Crisis and Reising’s first band, the Flat Earth Band, have partnered with the John Jarrard Foundation for Hope Reising, a concert which will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Brenau Amphitheater. All proceeds from the event will go to support Reising and his family while he recovers from his stroke.

Reising’s stroke occurred on May 19 when Mike Gottsman invited members of Mid Life Crisis to his house.

No one anticipated an out-of-the-ordinary evening.

“I was having people over just to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company, rather than just play music,” Gottsman said.

Reising, Mid Life Crisis’ bassist, was the last to arrive. Within 10 minutes, Gottsman and fellow guitarist Bill Hallowes, one an orthopedic surgeon and the other an anaesthesiologist, noticed Reising wasn’t very talkative. He was also displaying a facial droop on his left side. As medical professionals, Gottsman and Hallowes immediately called 911.

“It was a real good testament to how good the EMS folks are,” Gottsman said. “Within five to 10 minutes, they were at our house and had him loaded up and headed to the hospital.”

When he arrived at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, the bassist was immediately admitted and given a positron emission tomography scan. The doctors realized Reising, a husband and father of two boys, was experiencing a hypertensive stroke.

“Probably within 45 minutes of his arrival, he was in the operating room having surgery on his head,” Gottsman said. “So from the time we noticed to the time he was in the operating room, it was an hour and a half at most.”

The extraordinary events of May 19 saved Reising’s life as much as it changed it.

Doctors also soon informed Reising, who previously worked as a contractor and a set builder for local films and commercials, he wouldn’t be able to work for a year or more. Having been active on the local music scene for more than 20 years, it was only fitting for the community to rally around him and his wife Dee, an employee of Occasions Florist in Gainesville, and his sons Aidan, 20, and Kiernan, 17, to help support them in the wake of Reising’s loss of income.

Mid Life Crisis partnered with the John Jarrard Foundation to organize “Hope Reising,” the benefit concert for Reising as he recovers from his stroke. Mid Life Crisis and Atlanta-based Flat Earth Band will put on a two-hour show.

Jimmy T. Harris, a veteran of the Atlanta music scene, met Reising when he saw him perform with another band in the early 1990s.

“Afterward, we went to Waffle House and I said (to Reising), ‘Man, you play bass really well, how long have you been playing?’ And he started laughing and said ‘One month,’” Harris said.

Harris contacted Reising later and the two became founding members of the Flat Earth Band, which performed together through 1998.

“(Reising) was just an interesting figure,” Harris said. “He has been known for never wearing shoes on stage. He went barefoot everywhere he played.”

Harris will be among the performers Saturday, which include former members of the Flat Earth Band and current members of Mid Life Crisis. Mid Life Crisis has previously played numerous benefit concerts for charitable causes including Challenged Child and Friends, the Gainesville Ballet, the Gainesville High Theater Department, Eagle Ranch and Interactive Neighborhood for Kids.

Mid Life Crisis has raised more than $1.5 million for Challenged Child, said Henry Troutman, the band’s drummer and manager. Troutman co-founded the band with Reising 14 years ago.

Troutman, who helped organize the event, hailed the John Jarrard Foundation and the local creative community for coming out to support a fellow resident and musician in need.

“We’re all here to support each other with the John Jarrard Foundation,” Troutman said. “With the amount of local musicians and the actual talent of all of the arts in the Gainesville area, music is just one part of it.”

The concert will function as a reunion show of sorts for the Flat Earth Band, whose members include Tom Ryan, a saxophonist who has performed with the Shawn Mullins band and Widespread Panic.

For music lovers who can’t make the show, they can also make a donation at johnjarrardfoundation.com.

“Karl is just one of these people that would do whatever it took to get the work done,” Harris said. “He had a great attitude and never caused any trouble, and so when (the stroke) happened everybody that knew him wanted to get together and do whatever he could to help out.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 770-710-9191 or visit johnjarrardfoundation.com.



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