Benefit set for Eileen Carson Schatz

Mark and Eileen Schatz

Once again, the acoustic music community is coming together to help one of its own.

A benefit concert for Eileen Carson Schatz will be held Sunday, September 16, at The Hamilton in Washington DC. Eileen learned in March that she has stage three pancreatic cancer. Needless to say, the aggressive disease and the powerful chemotherapy to treat it have led to some major expenses and a big cut in income for Eileen – the driving force behind the Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble – and her husband Mark Schatz, an award-winning bass player. Mark, who has toured with the Claire Lynch Band, Nickel Creek and a number of other acclaimed bands over the years, has cleared most of his schedule to stay home and be Eileen’s caregiver.

The show will feature Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, banjo master Tony Trischka and the Grammy-winning folk duo, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. Footworks dancers will also perform.

Tickets are available at on the Hanilton web site.

Those who can’t attend the show can help by contributing to a Go Fund Me campaign that a friend created to help Eileen and Mark, which is still short of its $75,000 goal. Details can be found online.

I met Eileen more than a decade ago when I was randomly assigned to room with her, Mark, and others at Common Ground On The Hill, an arts and music camp at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. I’ve seen her there every year since, but no reunion was more special than this year’s. Eileen, weakened by the illness and treatments, sang and danced a bit in the faculty show and taught her dance class, with the help of an assistant. And she came back in subsequent weeks to attend the bluegrass camp concert and to take part in a special ceremony.

Every step along the way, she had an important message to share: Don’t fret about what you can’t do. Celebrate what you can do.

I’m going to turn that on its head a bit. 

Don’t fret about how much you can’t give to help smooth Eileen’s bumpy path. Give what you can to help this remarkable woman and her husband.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.