Just as life can soar, it can sink. This past December, shortly before Christmas, longtime musician Alex Diaz suffered a stroke. Diaz, better known to locals and fans of indie pop and avant noise as Xela Zaid, has been on the slow road to recovery, with mounting medical and therapy bills.
“Alex has always been distinctive in that he combines inspired and viable musicianship with the hang-out-and-play/socialize dynamic,” says L.A. musician Amanda Green. “Agoraphobia is quite prevalent in Miami artist circles, but with Alex, he's always had that spark of genius but at the same time has always been open to practically any musical situation.”
Green will join a large group of locals via a live stream this Sunday at Churchill’s Pub to help bolster the fundraising efforts that Diaz’s musician friends began after his stroke. Rob Elba, who has assumed the formidable mantle of scene patriarch, has been involved in the effort and is hopeful that, albeit slow, the progress shown in Diaz's recovery is just the beginning.
Joining the virtual Green will be Humbert, FTMF, Rat Bastard, Mr. Entertainment & the Pookiesmackers, Gold Dust Lounge, the reunited Brand, and many other acts.
“We love this scene; it’s always been home to us,” says Juan Oña of the Brand. “There’s a very tight-knit musical community that goes back decades. Alex has always been a part of the scaffolding that holds up the Miami music scene as far back as we can remember.”
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May is Stroke Awareness Month, so the timing is perfect for this benefit show. Strokes account for more than 120,000 deaths annually and lead the pack as a cause of disability in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association. A stroke can happen to anyone. The debilitating reality of recovery is a cause of frustration and depression. Doubly so if it interferes with an individual’s ability to create and communicate.
Organizers are near the $15,000 goal on the YouCaring crowd fund, and every dollar raised will go directly to his rehabilitation expenses. Donating there is quick and easy. So’s picking up a copy of his latest full-length, Orange Violet. Even better will be a paltry $10 donation (more always encouraged) at the door at Churchill’s.
As Oña recalls, “he is undoubtedly an original and daring musician but, and what really made an impression on us early-on, he shows up to the fucking shows. We know Alex because he shows up.” Diaz will be in attendance and the organizers stress that it is crucial for attendees to arrive early—to enjoy the show, of course, plus some special surprises.
An Evening for Xela at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 28 at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE 2 Ave., Miami. $10 donation at door. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.