Days after suffering a cardiac arrest following a set at a Chicago music festival, Austin musician Jon Dee Graham is now back home recovering — and vowing to play live again tonight (July 10).
Graham, 60, performed a 75-minute set last Thursday (July 4) at the 38th Annual American Music Festival at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, outside of Chicago. Afterwards, he was spotted by a reporter walking into the smoking section of the festival to have a cigarette and thanked fans who were showing appreciation for his set, which he performed with his band The Fighting Cocks.
According to Kate Fitzgerald, co-owner of the bar that booked him, Graham’s medical incident happened later that night or early Friday morning at the Chicago hotel where he was staying.
Jon Dee Update: after Jon Dee's performance last night at Fitzgerald's Americana Festival he went into cardiac arrest….
The following day, the above statement was posted on Graham’s Facebook page. “After Jon Dee’s performance last night at Fitzgerald’s Americana Festival he went into cardiac arrest. He is in the ICU in Chicago and is at this time expected to make a full recovery. The rest of the tour is cancelled, but no one will be surprised to find him back on his feet and back at it before you know it.
“While he’s a hard man to keep down, keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks to everyone who is reaching out.”
A second statement was issued by the musician himself on Sunday night (July 8), where he reassured worried fans and vowed to play his regular Wednesday night gig at The Continental Club in Austin this week.
“I WAS ONLY DEAD FOR A LITTLE WHILE! No really, my heart stopped & they had to revive me, but I’m feeling better,” he wrote in the above post. “Grateful beyond words for all the love & support that poured in from all fronts… Resting up & healing. I will be back at it ASAP.
“And since I’m supposed to walk I think I can play within a few days. So please come hug me (but not too hard) this Wednesday at The Continental Club& this Saturday at The Saxon Pub… I love you ALL! Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts & prayers, it seems to be working!”
During his set in the crowded and humid Fitzgerald’s on Thursday, Graham joked about the current state of affairs in the United States, saying he didn’t have any optimistic songs but that the closest thing he had was his song ‘Things Might Turn Out Right’, which he performed. He also joked with the operators of the venue from the stage about the line-up signage, saying: “My name is in 8 point type and it’s all about Alejandro Escovedo, Alejandro Escovedo, Alejandro Escovedo, and I’m better!”
Graham played with Escovedo and his brother Javier in the mid-1980s in the band True Believers, a band many herald as pioneers of Cowpunk and alt-country. He first gained recognition in Austin’s punk scene around 1980 as a member of The Skunks, before playing guitar with blues singer Lou Ann Barton. After that, he played in True Believers before releasing solo albums in the mid-1990s. He’s been inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame three times — for his work with The Skunks, True Believers and as a solo artist.
On Saturday, the last night of the festival, Alejandro Escovedo dedicated a song to Graham, who was still in the hospital at the time.