'More to Live For' on Aspen screen

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Friday, April 1, 2011

ASPEN — Assuming Glen Tilbrook, Cy Curnin, Donavon Frankenreiter, Miles Zuniga and John Oates have a moment where they all get together this weekend — a strong likelihood, as they are all scheduled to perform in the second annual 7908 Aspen Songwriters Festival — they will have more to talk about than songwriting techniques, and war stories about the horrific gigs they’ve played.

All those musicians are also members of Love Hope Strength, a foundation whose focus on music is only secondary. The organization was created to battle cancer — by building cancer treatment centers around the world, raising awareness of the needs of cancer patients, and to expand the bone marrow donation database so that more people give and receive marrow transplants.

But the music is not incidental to the mission. Love Hope Strength was founded, in 2007, by Mike Peters, the lead singer of the Welsh band the Alarm, and James Chippendale, an executive in the entertainment business. Both are leukemia survivors who decided to devote themselves to the cause of making treatment of cancer more readily available.

Tilbrook, Curnin, et al., can speak not only about cancer treatment, but about the adventures they’ve had while raising money and awareness. A unique aspect of Love Hope Strength is the manner in which they go about their mission, and where they do so — on combination trek/concerts above Everest Base Camp, on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Fuji, and atop the Empire State Building. Curnin, lead singer of the Fixx, and Tilbrook, a member of Squeeze, have been on multiple excursions, including the one on Everest; Frankenreiter participated with the group in Japan; and Zuniga, of the rock band Fastball, went to Machu Picchu in Peru.

The group’s latest adventure is on the big screen, with the film “More to Live For.” The documentary, directed by Noah Hutton, tells of three people with cancer: Chippendale; Seun Adebiyi, a bobsledder and Yale law student who is training to become the first athlete to represent Nigeria in the Winter Olympics; and Michael Brecker, the saxophone legend who died of leukemia in 2007. The film has a free screening at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3 at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House, a tie-in with the 7908 Songwriters Festival.

Among those who have joined the organization is Julie Lampton. The Aspenite and music fanatic had no special awareness of cancer issues, when her best friend told her of a hike in an exotic location that would put her in the company of some well-known musicians.

“I said, ‘Rock stars? Hiking? Of course I want to go,’” she said, noting that she has been on all four of Love Hope Strength’s major excursions. “And it’s turned into so much more.”

Lampton says she now gets as passionate about registration drives for bone marrow donations as she does for a concert by a favorite artist. And combining the two is a special thrill. At a concert by Michael Franti at Red Rocks, Lampton participated in a bone marrow drive that resulted in a match between a donor and a patient.

“That’s thrilling,” she said.

“More to Live For” is 86 minutes long. But Lampton suggests that viewers should budget a little more time for the experience. There will be a donor registration table in the Wheeler lobby, and she expects there will be a line.

“Shannon Foley” — the executive director of Love Hope Strength — “told me that after a screening of the film, every person in the theater went and registered,” Lampton said. “Because the movie is moving and powerful.”

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