As a working musician, you get calls that you don’t expect. Some calls might be a benefit used to raise money for a worthy cause. No money involved, but you’re donating your talents to help someone or an organization that needs it. Some calls are just regular jobs or, perhaps, one of your fellow musicians has been what’s known in the industry parlance as “double-booked.” I have done all of the above at one time or another during my lengthy career — most musicians have.
A couple of days ago, I received a call from Mojo Collins, the Outer Banks’ blues legend who recently suffered a massive heart attack while on stage that was, thankfully, repaired. Because surgery was required, Mr. Collins has been unable do what he does best and what he loves — reach others by playing music.
His heart attack couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune time: the beginning of what’s known here as “The Season”— known elsewhere as “summertime” — when musicians and workers of all kinds on the Outer Banks earn the lion’s share of their annual income.
Because of his surgery and recovery, Mojo has had to cancel nearly all of his gigs. Couple that loss of income with a massive hospital bill, and it’s not a good situation.
Mojo has been hoping to get back up on the musical horse before the end of the season, and he was counting on his First Friday gig at the Dare County Arts Council to be one of his first rides.
The monthly event — which runs April through December — is a free, family-friendly street festival with live music and good vibes that takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. the first Friday of each month in Historic Downtown Manteo. Dare County Arts Council hosts new art exhibits, Manteo’s quaint shops and restaurants have extended hours and feature special sales, shows and performances.
Mojo’s call to me was to ask if I could fill in for him at the event. I said I’d be happy to fill in, and I added that, as Aug. 3 approaches, if he feels well enough to perform, he should do it: I’d be there to support him, whether it’s setting up the sound system, sitting in and playing with him, or taking over if he needs a breather for a song or two. I’d be there. Happily. (And, honestly, I’d be honored.)
Unfortunately, Mojo says he’s not quite physically ready to return to the stage…not yet.
But First Friday will be there for him: Organizers will have accommodations for attendees to make donations, should they choose to do so. All donations go directly to Mojo.
So, if you’re planning on attending the First Friday festivities on Aug. 3, say your prayers, send out good vibes (or whatever your personal choice of wanting or hoping good things to happen might be) to the foremost purveyor of the blues on our beloved Outer Banks in the person of Mojo Collins.
There is really nobody who can “replace” Mojo on a stage. He owns it. But, in his absence, I will do my best to fill in for him and hope that I can rise to the occasion. This man has huge musical shoes and my feet are tiny, in comparison.”
Transplanted to the Outer Banks from the wilds of the L.A. area, singer-songwriter Scott Sechman has shared stages with Bill Medley, Tom Rush, Al Wilson and the Grass Roots during his ongoing music career.