Aaron Graves helped me to love my music scene again. His battle with an inoperable brain tumor has been well documented thus far, both through the media, and updates on Tumor-Schumor.com. I’ve kept in touch with plenty of South Carolina bands that have moved away over the years and I often ask them what they miss most about Columbia and it’s the strong ties of community we have here. Some might disagree, but I can argue the good fight first hand. I was once an outsider who’s enjoyed the loving embrace of the Fork and Spoon community, specifically Aaron Graves, Chris Gardner, and Jordan Blackmon. I’m filled with pride of my music scene every Wednesday when I eat lunch at El Burrito with members of bands, music supporters, and people who are out just to support Aaron in his battle. We have a group text going that lights up my phone for 2 hours starting around 8 AM on Wednesday mornings as we wonder what the secret prize in our lunchbox might be and what our estimated time of arrival is — like the prize even matters? My Chaz Bundick doughnut print on a half-inch piece of wood, roughly the size of an iPhone, sits on my desk in front of my computer screen as a constant reminder of someone that’s good and wholesome, and how you’re supposed to act when someone can use your help.

This compilation is another example of many to help support the Graves family in their journey. Filled with bands that call Fork and Spoon home, groups that have shared the bill with Those Lavender Whales over the years, and a handful of national acts, this batch of 17 songs is extraordinarily well curated, and an absolute pleasure of a listen. Opening with Aaron Graves band Those Lavender Whales, Graves lays it out there like a three minutes and 36 second hug with the song “I’m so Proud (of my friends) right off the bat. This track is now up there with my favorite Those Lavender Whales songs. The nomad Mike Collins Jr. follows, introducing himself clear and clean to the internet, a more comfortable setting than a basement or a street corner. The comp weaves steady from smooth electronica through indie rock and gritty Americana. Much like Those Lavender Whales songs, most of the tracks here are short and to the point, oddly enough the Whales have one of the longest tracks on the record. I’m proud of my friends, and my music community, and feel fortunate daily to be able to call some of these people my friends.

A compilation benefitting the Graves family while Aaron battles his tumor. Incredible art by Sam Spina. Mastering donated by the Jam Room.

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