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Musicians band together to help one of their own

May 11, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Comin' On Country is a band that got together in the mid-1970s, playing in Tri-State area clubs and bars for about eight years.

Some of the members got back together and played at The Gateway Seafood House on New Year's Eve. They plan another reunion concert on Sunday, May 19 - this time to help one of their own.

Rick Hannon, who played guitar with the band, was diagnosed with lung cancer a little more than two years ago. He's had 27 months of radiation and chemotherapy and said he's tolerated the treatment well.

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"I've been very fortunate," he said.

His doctor, Michael J. McCormack, M.D., called Hannon a remarkable survivor.

"He's a terrific guy," he said.

His band mates agree.

Mike Holtzman started playing drums with Comin' on Country when he was 13 years old. He's still playing - now with the local blues band Rudy and the Bluefish.

Holtzman said he bets that Rick Hannon has played more than 150 benefit concerts over 30 years. He never said no to a request.

Hannon's son, Rich, also a musician, organized a pair of rock concerts - dubbed Summer Bash 1 and 2 - in 2000 and 2001 to benefit the John R. Marsh Cancer Center at Robinwood Medical Center, where Hannon received his treatment.

Like those concerts, the May 19 show will be at the Colonial Restaurant and Lounge in Hagerstown.

"It's time we do one for Rick," Holtzman said.

Hoping to join his former band mates - Hannon, Mike Holtzman's father, Bill Holtzman on guitar, and Randy Wenger on bass and steel guitar - at the benefit concert is Robert Lee "R.L." Castleman, an original member of Comin' On Country.

Castleman, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., recently stopped in Hagerstown to visit his friends and show them the Grammy award he won last February for writing "The Lucky One." The song was named Best Country Song at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles, and Alison Krauss and Union Station also won a Grammy for their recording of the song.

Castleman has gone far since his time with Comin' On Country. He's opened for country stars Loretta Lynn and Travis Tritt.

Alan Jackson recorded another of the Martinsburg, W.Va., native's songs, "Maybe I Should Stay Here," on his 2000 platinum album "When Somebody Loves You."

But Castleman hasn't forgotten his roots.

"Rick is part of the reason I got this," he said holding his Grammy award.

Hannon taught him a lot of guitar licks, he said.

"He taught me a lot about life."

For information about the concert, call the Colonial at 301-739-0667 and ask for Joanne or Barb.

A trust fund has been established for Rick Hannon - Richard Hannon II - at Hagerstown Trust. Donations can be made at any bank branch.

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