When Matt Jackson was in 5th grade, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. This led to a long battle that included two surgeries and hospital stays with other children also battling various forms of this dreadful disease.
“I remember being in the hospital and seeing much younger kids that were terminal and realizing that hospital life was all they knew,” Matt said. “I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but that’s always stuck with me. And, I’ve always put forth the effort to live a full life as an oath to those that aren’t so lucky — especially the young ones that never knew life without cancer.”
As the bassist of Bend-based Weez-It, which is performing at this year’s Press On: Moving Lives Through Cancer, music is one way Matt continues to fulfill this oath.
“…I’ve always put forth the effort to live a full life as an oath to those that aren’t so lucky — especially the young ones that never knew life without cancer.”
Matt, 38, starting playing the violin in the 4th grade, then picked up the electric bass a few years later. He’s been a bassist ever since, playing a role in the formation of his first “real band,” The Premies, in 2000.
More recently, he joined Taylor Morden (vocals, guitar), Meshem Jackson (drums) and Ryan Kojan (guitar) to form Weez-It, a band that takes audiences on an energetic trip into the mid-1990s, and beyond, with songs made popular by Weezer.
“I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember, and it will always be a huge part of my life,” Matt said.
Like many bassists, Matt has idolizes Les Claypool of Primus fame. He tells about a nephew of Claypool’s who was born with cancer, then died four years later.
“In his short four years, despite his daily battles, he still managed to have a smile on his face every day,” Matt said. “As adults, we can learn a lot from these stories.”
One lesson: quality of life, he said, trumps quantity.
“Life is short, and in many cases, way too short,” Matt added. “I don’t sweat the small things, but I also let the simple things carry me through life.”
See Matt and his Weez-It bandmates play during Press On at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23 at Atlas Cider Company in Bend. A fundraising and outreach effort that doubles as a celebration of life, Press On is a free, family-friendly event.