Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie and members of local music community return the love to Mary Moser - The Buffalo News

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Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie and members of local music community return the love to Mary Moser

“God bless Bruce and Mary Moser.”

When Bono spoke these words before a sold-out crowd in 2005 in what was then HSBC Arena, U2 was probably the biggest rock band in the world. And yet, Bono remembered a time when this wasn’t the case, when coming to Buffalo meant opening for local legends Talas, or playing to an all but empty Stage One on the night John Lennon was murdered.

For U2, playing in Buffalo also meant time spent with Bruce and Mary Moser. Bruce and his partner Doug Dombrowski ran local independent rock radio promotion company Could Be Wild from an office in Allentown. Could Be Wild worked U2 from the beginning, and ultimately helped break the band in the Northeast, which was one of the first regions in the U.S. to fall for U2.

Mary Moser already had done her bit for the band by that time, when, while working at Home of the Hits on Elmwood, she pushed U2 to anyone who would wander into the store, offering to refund their money if they purchased the Irish band’s debut, “Boy,” and didn’t fall in love with it.

Bruce and Mary loved to tell this story over the years, always punctuating it with the perfect punch line: “No one ever asked for their money back.”

Bruce met Mary at Home of the Hits at the end of the ’70s. They were close friends for five years, before they finally began dating. They’ve now been married for 30 years.

On July 17 of last year, Mary Moser suffered significant brain trauma as the result of a fall. She has been in a coma ever since.

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.), her family – husband Bruce, their children Erin and Grace, brother Bernie Kugel – and others will present a fundraising concert. It is a testament to the influence the Mosers have had that a roster of performers that reads like a who’s who of the Western New York and Southern Ontario music scene over 30 years has offered their services. Bruce Moser is now retired, after suffering serious medical issues of his own in 2009, and the full brunt of the medical bills surrounding Mary’s accident is being borne by the family.

It’s equally telling that Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie immediately volunteered to perform at the fundraiser when he heard about it. Could Be Wild also helped break the Tragically Hip in the U.S., and Downie has been a close family friend for years.

In the interest of full disclosure, so have I. The Mosers are a tight family unit, and they always are supportive of young musical talent. I’ve witnessed this personally, as Mary and Bruce became close to my son as he grew up and grew into a musician, offering considerable support along the way.

Bruce Moser said he was surprised when Downie agreed to perform at the benefit for Mary. “He not only said yes, he thanked me for the opportunity to become involved,” Moser laughed. “That meant an awful lot. I was hoping to get some national acts involved in this, and Mary’s favorite bands to come out of the ’80s era are U2, the Hip and Blue Rodeo. She became friends with all of them.

“Mary was also a huge supporter of the original music scene that centered on a bunch of people who came out of Kenmore in the late ’70s,” Bruce recalled. Fittingly, many of these same artists volunteered to perform at Saturday’s benefit, among them Gretchen Schulz, Pauline and the Perils, the Good, Terry Sullivan, the Vores and Cowboys of Scotland. The event will be emceed by another family friend, Artie Kornfeld, a longtime musician and producer who is most famous as one of the creators of the original Woodstock festival.

Members of the Buffalo and Western New York music scene have been known to rally around fellow members of that community, and this certainly has been the case when it comes to the Mosers.

“The support, the outpouring of emotion and the prayers being offered for Mary have been overwhelming,” Bruce said.

“All of this really helps. It means a lot to me and to the kids. Beyond that, we just take it day by day.”

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