This Sunday, the Twin Cities community is gathering to support a Minnesota music legend’s fight against cancer. A concert fundraiser is being held at the Minnesota Music Cafe to support Lonnie Knight’s battle with cancer and to celebrate the talented guitarist.
Lonnie Knight first began playing the guitar when he was only 12 years old. Today he is recognized as a truly talented guitarist — with several Minnesota Music Awards to prove it. Throughout his career he has released eight albums; the most recent, So We Jump, was released in 2010. Knight has also put extensive effort into other artists’ creations, serving as both a producer and studio musician. A man who for years has focused his energy on music unfortunately now has a new priority.
Knight was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer on April 1. Doctors informed him that not only is this type of cancer incurable, but that for him surgery was not an option. Ultimately for Knight this meant that all that could be done would be to work to prevent further growth and spreading of the tumor.
Despite the news, Knight and his wife Patti are refusing to accept that there is no hope for recovery. Along with chemotherapy, Knight has also been exploring alternative treatments. While they have managed to stay hopeful through this trying time, the cost of treatment has been an unforgiving burden.
The Lonnie Knight’s Cancer Fight benefit concert is an example of the community rallying to support Knight and his wife. However, to Knight the concert means so much more to him than just monetary help. When asked how it felt to know that friends, family and fans were coming together like this to support him, he had a very heartfelt response.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Knight. “I’ve sat and just started crying at times. It’s just an amazing feeling. I had no idea that so many would come to help out.”
Many of those people who are coming to help out are close friends and fellow musicians of Knight. The lineup for the benefit are all artists that Knight has close connections with — including Reid Papke, the Lisa Wenger Band, and Mary Jane Alm, to name a few.
“They’re all close friends,” said Knight. “We’ve done lots of benefits for other folks when they’ve hit hard times.”
Knight is also listed as one of the performers on Sunday night; however, whether he’s able to perform will ultimately depend on how he’s feeling on Sunday. He emphasized that as a musician, it was important to him to continue to perform. “There’s something about playing that revitalizes me,” he said. “This would be a lot harder to do without playing.”
When asked what it meant to him to be considered a Minnesota music legend, he had this very humble response: “It’s really an honor. There are so many incredibly talented artists in this town. Just to be one of them is an honor and even just to be considered one of them is flattering.” Then he added, jokingly, “Mostly it just means I’ve been playing for a long, long time.”
The concert takes place this Sunday, Aug. 28, from 1-7 p.m. The fundraiser will feature a host of musicians, as well as a live auction and raffle. For those interested in further helping Knight’s fight against cancer, friends and family have created a GoFundMe page: Lonnie Knight’s Cancer Fund.
Lillian Speakman is a senior at Hamline University.