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March 04. 2013 10:38PM

Irish band to headline benefit concert for Derry native


Derry native and artist Melissa Carroll is battling a rare type of cancer called Ewing's sarcoma. (COURTESY)

The Irish band Dervish is playing a benefit for the Melissa Carroll at the Stockbridge Theatre on Thursday evening. (COURTESY)
DERRY - As one of Ireland's most popular bands, it makes sense that Dervish is touring the United States close to St. Patrick's Day in March.

During its stop at the Stockbridge Theatre in Derry on Thursday, March 7, the band will be doing more than celebrating Irish heritage and music. That night's concert will be a benefit for 29-year-old Derry native Melissa Carroll, who has been battling Ewing's sarcoma for over two years.

Carroll is the daughter of Irish musician Paul Carroll and his wife, Cecilia.

For Dave McLaughlin, who is producing the show at the Stockbridge Theatre and is also the Carrolls' neighbor, it made perfect sense to ask Dervish to perform the show as a benefit for Melissa Carroll.

"Melissa's dad came from Ireland in the 1970s as part of a touring Irish band," said McLaughlin. "While touring in Australia, he met his American wife, Cecilia, and they settled in Derry, where they raised three children."

Carroll is a graduate of Pinkerton Academy and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Since completing her education, she has lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., while pursuing an art career, according to McLaughlin.

Several years ago, according to McLaughlin, Carroll began working as an assistant to world-renowned Italian portrait artist Francesco Clemente, and her brush work has become part of some of his most recent paintings.

"Two years ago, Melissa was informed that she had a malignant tumor, Ewing's sarcoma," said McLaughlin. "Since then, for the most part, Melissa has had to put down her brushes and undergo extensive treatments at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital, where she has recently had to start a whole new round of treatments."

Carroll has incurred extensive costs in fighting the disease, McLaughlin said.

"She has been accepted into a clinical trial program in Washington, D.C., should her present round of treatments prove as unsuccessful as her previous round," he said.

In addition to working in Brooklyn, Carroll also works with children with cancer and recently returned from a two-week trip to India to help children there.

Unfortunately, almost immediately upon her return, McLaughlin said she had to begin another round of chemotherapy and may not be well enough to attend her benefit concert on Thursday evening.

Dervish is releasing its first studio album in over five years, "The Thrush in the Storm," next month. The album is already available at the band's website.

The band was formed in 1989 by a group of five musicians, Liam Kelly, Shane Mitchell, Martin McGinley, Brian McDonagh and Michael Holmes, who came together to record an album of local music, which was released as "The Boys of Sligo."

In 1991, singer Cathy Jordan and fiddle player Shane McAleer joined the band.

Tickets for the show are $35 and are available online at www.HeptunesConcerts.com, by phone at 437-5210 and at the Stockbridge Theatre Box Office.

aswift@newstote.com

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