Forty years after Huntington’s Disease claimed the life of folk legend Woody Guthrie, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg and Brad (featuring Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard) are coming together to hold a benefit concert for other people afflicted with the ailment. Tim Robbins will serve as the host of the event, which is being held at New York’s Webster Hall on October 17th. Gossard’s wife Liz Weber — whose mother suffers from the disease — helped organize the concert. “We have money and can hire a nurse to help my mother in-law,” Gossard says. “There’s a lot of people that can’t. My wife and I really wanted to be involved in something that that raises money for people that need specific care and also helps out with research.” For more information on the concert and the ailment check out hdsa.org.
Steve Earle and Billy Bragg (who has recorded two albums of Guthrie covers) will likely play many Woody covers, but Gossard isn’t sure Brad will break any out at the show. “I gotta go through Woody’s library a little more to see if there’s anything we can do,” he says. “Right now I’m just desperately trying to learn Brad songs. We haven’t played together in three years.” The show will also feature surprise guests, though Gossard can’t reveal who they will be. “I can’t tell you who or else I’ll be in trouble,” he says. “They just can’t commit publicly at this point.”
Brad — the band Gossard formed in 1992 with vocalist Shawn Smith — recently finished their fourth album and plan on hitting the road after the Guthrie concert. “We have a real distinct sound and it’s different than Pearl Jam,” Gossard says. “We don’t have a release date or even a record label at this point. We do have lots of web power though.”
Gossard is also excited about his forthcoming reunion concert with Green River, the proto-grunge band he formed in 1984 with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and future members of Mudhoney. They plan to play their first concert in two decades at a show celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Sub Pop records. The entire original lineup will play the gig, along with Bruce Fairweather who replaced original guitarist Steve Turner. “It’s going to be hilarious and hopefully exciting,” he says. “When we formed Green River all that mattered was passion and the ability to bang out some chords. It’s an amazing thing to discover as a high schooler that there is something out there that doesn’t have to do with studying or work or rigor.”
What about the future of Pearl Jam, who last played together at Lollapalooza on August 5th? “Pearl Jam is taking a break and nobody knows what’s going on, which is fantastic,” he says. When Ed says, ‘Hey, let’s make a record,’ it’s going to be fucking fun.”