Founded in 2010 after the almost 5-year-old Joey Gomoll died from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, Joey’s Song has been working tirelessly for a decade to raise money to find cures and treatments for epilepsy and to help those who are affected by it.
My good friend Mike Gomoll – Joey’s dad – has been a one-man force of nature, with a little help from a lot of friends, in keeping Joey’s Song active and growing.
That work led Gomoll to leave his private sector job to become executive director of Epilepsy Foundation Heart of Wisconsin.
Still, Mike planned to host the annual benefit gig in Madison. Last year’s show at the Barrymore Theater alone raised nearly $80,000.
But, of course, it’s 2020.
"Needless to say this year has not gone like any of us had planned," says Mike. "We had all sorts of plans for Joey’s Song. We were going to be bigger and better. Bigger venue, bigger lineup. Just bigger all around. But thanks to our amazing group of supporting artists we’ve come up with an alternate plan."
That plan is to take the annual fundraising gig off the Madison stage and onto the world stage via the internet.
Joey’s Song Remote & Uncontrolled will air live at joeyssong.org on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m. with performances by an impressive list of rock and roll names.
Among the performers are Jewel, The Know-It-All Boyfriends (featuring members of Garbage and Tmbuk3), Silversun Pickups’ Brian Aubert, Cory Chisel, Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne, Marshall Crenshaw, Del Amitri’s Justin Currie, Laura Jane Grace from Against Me!, Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, Freedy Johnston, Jesse Malin, Scott McCaughey, Rhett Miller from The Old 97s, Dan Navarro, Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow, Zach Williams and more.
"While we know you’ll be entertained by this great group of artists, we know the real reason we’ll be together that night is to raise money," says Gomoll.
"We know times are tough, but unfortunately epilepsy and its effects don’t slow down during a pandemic. Help us fight epilepsy with music."
One hundred percent of each donation made to the Joseph Gomoll Foundation goes directly to organizations on the cutting edge of epilepsy research and prevention, Gomoll says.
"They’re all donating their time and talent to help us raise money to find cures and treatments for epilepsy and to fund the programs and services that help improve the lives of those affected."
To date, Joey’s Song has raised nearly a half-million dollars for the fight against this brutal disease.
The fact that the show is online offers some unique opportunities, says Gomoll.
"Because it is online, I am able to offer the stream to other epilepsy charities to use to also raise money," he tells me. "I have about 15 Epilepsy Foundation offices and three other epilepsy-focused charities that will fundraise for themselves off of the stream. It could actually be a pretty big night for everyone involved."
Gomoll says that the Epilepsy Foundation of Wisconsin has recently starting providing services in the Milwaukee area, too.
Please help and mark your calendars for Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 when Joey’s Song hopes to return to the stage with a benefit gig at The Sylvee in Madison.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.