‘Jam for Hamm’ benefit concert to help pay Lawrence guitarist’s medical bills

Longtime local musician Michael Hamm, seen here, suffered a brain aneurysm in early November and, after emergency surgery at Kansas City's St. Luke's Hospital and several weeks in the intensive care unit, is now recovering at home in Lawrence. Hamm's friends in the local music scene have organized a benefit concert, Sunday's Jam

Stick around the Lawrence music scene long enough and you’ll become part of a tight-knit community that’s almost like family.

Family members, Joe Comporato says, look out for one another. So, when Comporato’s longtime friend and fellow musician Michael Hamm landed in the hospital last month after suffering a brain aneurysm, he had to help. Comporato, along with other local music mainstays, are coming together Sunday to host “Jam for Hamm,” a benefit concert at The Granada and Lucia Beer Garden & Grill, 1020 and 1016 Massachusetts St.

Proceeds from the event — featuring live music, a silent auction and raffle — will go toward Hamm’s medical bills and recovery.

“I think every musician knows they could be in the same spot. It’s tough to be a self-employed musician and not have the luxury of health insurance,” Comporato says. “So, when one of our brothers are in need, I think it was just a natural thing.”

Assembling more than a dozen of the area’s top artists for Sunday’s event, Comporato says, “didn’t take much effort.” Among the lineup: Truckstop Honeymoon, Pink Royal, Carswell & Hope, Maria the Mexican and others.

Several on the roster are groups Hamm regularly gigs for, including Comporato’s six-piece Grateful Dead tribute band, Play Dead. Some are the projects of Hamm’s former students, including the Lucas Parker Band. In addition to performing, Hamm has also worked as a guitar and bass teacher for more than 20 years while also serving as a coach in the summers for Lawrence’s River City Rock Camp, which introduces kids to collaborating and performing in bands together.

Hamm has an “uncanny ability” in connecting with young people, Comporato says.

“He engages the students; they’re excited about what they do, and many of his students become amazing players in our community,” Comporato says of his friend.

He’s also a “total team player” with the kind of humble, laid-back personality that’s made Hamm a “first choice” among local groups in need of pickup guitarists, Comporato says.

That’s why Comporato and his pals are eager to have their bandmate back on stage as soon as he’s well enough. Luckily, doctors expect Hamm to make a full recovery, Comporato says.

One night, Hamm was playing a gig, seemingly healthy and active as ever. The next day, he collapsed suddenly at home and was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., where he underwent emergency surgery and another procedure to repair the damage caused by the aneurysm.

He’ll have to undergo rehab, but, unlike some victims of brain aneurysms, Hamm hasn’t lost his mobility, dexterity or speech, Comporato says.

“All things considered, he’s doing extremely well,” Comporato says. “He is back home and he is starting to recover, so we’re all hoping and praying for that continued and speedy recovery.”

To that end, Comporato is aiming for at least 1,000 people to attend Sunday’s concert. In addition to ticket sales, 15 percent of all food and beverage proceeds from Lucia on the day of the event will go toward Hamm’s recovery fund.

Comporato isn’t sure how long the healing process will take, but he knows the Lawrence music scene will welcome Hamm back with open arms whenever he’s ready.

“I think whatever the time is, we’re going to help him do it right,” Comporato says.

“This is a great dude who’s a pillar of our arts community,” he added. “Lawrence is a place that supports and helps it own.”

Tickets for Sunday’s “Jam for Hamm” are $15 and can be purchased online at https://tinyurl.com/yaf89ker or free of service charges at The Granada box office, 1020 Massachusetts St. The event kicks off at 4 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. Children 10 and under get in free.

For more information, including a complete band roster, visit www.jamforhamm.com or the “Jam for Hamm” event page on Facebook.