Blake Johnson, the talented bass player and vocalist for Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, has been having a rough time of late. Health challenges are always disruptive and unpleasant, but we don’t often expect to see them visited on healthy young people.
We have written several times about Blake having to miss IIIrd Tyme Out shows owing to illness. Starting about 8 months ago, he reported feeling listless and weak, and doctors treated him for what they initially thought was a viral disease, and then a blood infection. He has more recently been diagnosed with kidney problems, and is on dialysis while awaiting a kidney for transplant. But through all of his, he has been right there for the band, riding the bus and making the shows.
Blake suffered another disappointment last week when the band was about to head out for a brief west coast tour. His pancreatitis and peptic ulcer were causing him pain, and he had to be readmitted to the hospital. He was discharged back home to try to get his strength back, but another flare up of his chronic pancreatitis necessitated that he be readmitted.
Fortunately, we live in an age where renal medicine is highly sophisticated, and kidney transplants and follow-up care are both successful and nearly commonplace. But the financial toll on Johnson and his family have been quite difficult. The combination of medical deductibles and uncovered expenses, along with the time missed from work with the band, have left Blake, and his wife and two children, behind the eight ball.
Members of his family have now created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for all these expenses, plus those expected to be associated with an eventual transplant. Their goal is to create a nest egg of $100,000 to tide the Johnsons over through this next period until Blake’s health is restored.
Russell Moore shared this statement with us about Blake’s situation.
“As many of you know, Blake Johnson has been ill for quite some time. He was diagnosed with stage-5 kidney disease and has been in out of the hospital multiple times over the last 10 months or so. In fact, Blake was hospitalized and unable to travel with us the last couple weeks on our trip to the west coast. We had hoped that he would be feeling better and be back out with us this weekend but unfortunately, he was hospitalized this week with chronic pancreatitis. He was released earlier today and is resting at home.
We wanted to take a moment to tell everyone what is going on so that you will continue to pray for Blake and his family. We, IIIrd Tyme Out, have personally witnessed the lengths he has had to go through to travel with us – and it’s been a tough thing to see. Many of you may not know that Blake has been taking dialysis even when he has been on the road with us. The back lounge area of our bus has been turned into a virtual hospital room in an effort to keep him healthy, comfortable, and doing what he loves – playing music. We love Blake and the talent that he has brought to the band and we pray that he will get well so he can join his ‘band of brothers’ on tour again.
Many of you have asked how you can help. As you can imagine, the medical bills for Blake and his family are stacking up at an alarming rate. So, a fund has been set up in his name for anyone who would like to contribute.
I want to personally thank each of you for all the prayers and well wishes for Blake and his family, and also for the band. Your continued support and understanding during this time is greatly appreciated!”
We know that IIIrd Tyme Out has a very large and loyal following, and the generosity of the wider bluegrass community has always served as a powerful reminder of how well we take care of our own. If you have the ability and the inclination, please consider helping out by donating through GoFundMe online.