Exene Cervenka cancels tour, citing her MS
Cervenka had performed last month in Austin at the South By Southwest Music Conference and then started what was to be a short tour in support of her new album, “The Excitement of Maybe.” But not long into it, she began experiencing pain and loss of use of her right hand and arm.
Here is the text of the statement the veteran punk rocker and roots music artist released today as an explanation and apology to fans about the shows she has had to scrap, including a stop Friday, April 15, in Los Angeles.
The statement also said she hopes to reschedule the dates in the near future.
“As you probably know by now, I was diagnosed with MS. I have been doing relatively well. I thought I could handle SXSW in Austin, and a short solo tour. However, I got sick in Austin during SX, it is a hard event even under the best of circumstances. It didn't seem that hot to me, but heat is very bad for those of us with MS.
“I started feeling bad almost as soon as I started playing on Wednesday and by Sunday night, I had a terrible headache and couldn't get out of bed. I didn't feel any better by Wednesday so I called my neurologist and got a prescription for steroids. I started to improve a little and thought I'd be okay to start my southwest/southeast tour on the following Friday.
“In retrospect, I should have called off the tour then and there. But I didn't want to cancel. Kevin Seconds, who was on the tour with me, met me in Austin, and we played our first show. But I wasn't getting better in Knoxville TN, a week later, I was fatigued and having a hard time functioning.
“When I took the stage that night, I was surprised to discover that my right hand and arm were not responding to my commands, and I couldn't play guitar. I apologized to the audience, talked a lot, and sang a cappella. Because I had driven ten hours from New Orleans, I hoped it was just fatigue from gripping the steering wheel so long. But I knew the tour was over.
“The next morning, after I called my booking agent and gave her the news, I sat down with Kevin Seconds and explained to him that I was too sick to continue, and would only be going as far as Memphis. I apologized. My friend flew into Memphis and drove me home, where I am now. I wouldn't have made it as far as I did without the help of my friends and the kindness of fans and strangers along the way.
“I am not an invincible road warrior anymore. The easiest part of touring is the hour on stage. The driving and staying with friends and finding hotels and advancing the shows and hauling around merch and guitars is the hard part. I've never canceled a tour before but it is more important for me to regain my health than continue.
“I never know when my MS will strike, and this was certainly bad timing for an attack. My apologies to the clubs, the fans, my label, and Mr. Seconds for this unfortunate event.”
Photo of Exene Cervenka. Credit: Maggie St. Thomas.