If you’ve ever drunk a pre-Dodgers-game PBR, smushed into the photo booth with friends or gotten sweaty on the dark dance floor of the Short Stop in Echo Park, chances are you’ve ordered a round from veteran bartender and lifetime musician, Joe Skyward — more commonly known by his nickname, Joe Bass.
Often spotted with a shock of bleached blonde hair, thick glasses and a twinkle in his eye, Skyward is never stingy with a smile. He earned his “Joe Bass” alias by shredding the instrument in bands including The Posies, The Walkabouts, Sky Cries Mary and Sunny Day Real Estate.
In his 13 years as bartender and assistant manager at L.A.’s most beloved and notorious Dodgers bar, Skyward has helped droves of thirsty Angelenos shake off the stress of the week in the dark comfort of the Sunset Boulevard bar.
Now it’s time for L.A. to help him.
Skyward, 56, has prostate cancer. He was diagnosed with it last spring, after it had already metastasized and spread to his skeletal and lymphatic systems. After two rounds of hormone treatments that weren’t much help, Skyward is facing 10 rounds of chemotherapy. His family has started a GoFundMe page to raise at least $45,000 to pay for the treatment.
As of Monday morning, the aptly named “Joe vs. The Volchemo” campaign had generated more than $21,000 in donations. [Update: As of Wednesday, the campaign has raised $28,000.]
“Like so many other hard working musicians and service industry professionals he has no real means set aside for this type of endeavor. The truth is neither do any of us in the immediate family,” Skyward’s 31-year-old daughter Brette Howard wrote on the fundraiser page.
She described her father to L.A. Weekly as a “powerful force of awesomeness” who has “more energy than most can muster in a week.” He is full of wit and exuberance and is the type of guy that “will be the first to help someone pull their trash cans in,” Howard added.
Skyward’s toddler granddaughter, Simonne; 29-year-old son, Jaxin; and wife, Chris Pellegrino, whom he just married last December, would probably agree.
Money raised from the online campaign will also give Skyward some breathing room so he can pay his rent and buy groceries without having to work while he undergoes the grueling process of chemo. Skyward is attacking his cancer on all fronts, according to his family, and has adopted an overall healthier lifestyle that includes juicing and a raw/vegan diet.
In addition to online contributions, Skyward’s family is organizing a benefit for him on Saturday, Aug. 8 at his very own stomping ground, the Short Stop. The event will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a suggested donation at the door. There will be a silent auction, raffle prizes, food, drinks and three special guest DJs, including DJ Lance Rock of Yo Gabba Gabba.
To strangers, Skyward is a bright light in a dark bar. To his family and friends, he is everything.
“He has shown us all how to be ourselves by being himself,” Howard writes on the GoFundMe page. “Stand for what we believe in by always listening to our inner rhythm. Fight for the life you want to live and do it with style.”
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To donate to Joe Skyward's cancer treatment fund, go to www.gofundme.com/joevsthevolchemo.