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Teaming up with Ron Hawkins, Joe Nicastro and Tom Lillis to benefit the Leukemia Society

November 21, 2017

Pictured, from left; Dick Shaner, Erik Eimiller, Frank Nicastro, Ron Hawkins, Justin Rose, Garrett Shea, Joe Nicastro, and Tom Lillis

Ron Hawkins is one of Canada’s most acclaimed and revered contemporary singer-songwriters. His iconic band, Lowest of the Low, has enjoyed many accolades through the years. In 1996, 2000 and again in 2005, Chart Magazine honored the group’s debut album, “Shakespeare My Butt,” with spots in the top 10 of the 100 best Canadian albums of all time.

Over the past 15 years I’ve become friends with Ron and other members of the Toronto-based band, helping with publicity for many of their Buffalo area appearances. They will be in town to perform two sold-out shows at the Town Ballroom on Wednesday and Friday in support of their new album, “Do The Right Now.”

Ron also traveled to Buffalo this past summer to produce a song titled, “Against the Storm,” that we hope will raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). This project was the brainchild of Joe Nicastro, Esq., an attorney with Ramos & Ramos, and Tom Lillis, senior vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Joe is a trustee with the Western & Central New York Chapter of LLS and Tom is a member of the chapter’s advisory board, and was presented with the chapter’s highest volunteer honor, the 2017 “Service to Mankind” award. Both are also accomplished musicians, Joe on guitar and Tom on bass.

I have gotten to know Joe and Tom through my pro bono work with the chapter’s annual Light The Night, Rock for the Cure and Diamond Ball fundraisers, all three of which are sponsored by The Martin Group. When they asked me get involved with the record project and to reach out to Ron to request his involvement, I was more than happy to lend a hand.

Over a two-day period in late August, Ron, Joe and Tom were joined by three other incredibly talented local musicians – Erik Eimiller, Frank Nicastro, and Garrett Shea – to record two versions of the song, one with Garrett on vocals and the other with Ron doing the singing. The sessions took place at GCR Audio Recording Studios, built by the Goo Goo Dolls and now owned by their bassist, Robby Takac, under the watchful eye and ear of studio manager and head engineer Justin Rose.

Emily Pumm, our agency’s multi-media specialist, sat down with Ron, Joe and Tom during a break in the action to learn more about how the project originated.

Joe says the mission of this song is to help raise money and awareness for the efforts being made to advance treatments that save lives. “It was written for the community of heroes who are coping with blood cancer, for the survivors and for those who are no longer with us. It was created with the hope that all will stand together to support the fight for cancer survival. We want those who hear it to know they are not alone in the fight and there is an organization made up of individuals who will stand by them through it all.”

Ron added, “We’re a platoon, a band of brothers, who came together to fight cancer by the creation and sale of a record called ‘Against The Storm.’”

The songs, which are now being mastered in Toronto with an anticipated February 2018 release date, will be made available online and on hard copies. Bill Zulewski is working on the creative design for the CD jacket.

Here’s a little trailer Tom put together of the “coming attraction,” including a very short snippet of the version of the song with Garrett on vocals.


Dick Shaner Jr.

is a Senior Vice President in Public Relations for The Martin Group. Learn more about our Public Relations work and capabilities.

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