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Dying Uptown Rocker Spends Final Days Organizing 'Danstock' Benefit Concert

By Adeshina Emmanuel | January 29, 2013 12:22pm

UPTOWN — Terminal cancer could not stop an Uptown man who's become a fixture in the local rock scene from organizing a concert to raise funds for research he hopes will give a chance to "somebody who can still make it."

Dan Stock, a 37-year old music producer at Uptown Recording, is suffering from melanoma that has spread throughout his body, friends said.

But that hasn't stopped Stock from organizing a benefit concert, "Danstock," during his final days as a way to “give a little bit back while I’m still alive,” he said.

"Maybe somebody will donate $5 or $20 toward somebody who will have an extra leg up," said Stock, who lost his father to melanoma last year and hopes his efforts can help find a cure.

 Dan Stock.
Dan Stock.
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Courtesy of Catherine Denny

The four-band concert is set for Feb. 7 at Lincoln Hall.

Proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction will go to a melanoma research team at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Stock said the concert is also aimed at shining the spotlight on the bands performing — Board of Governors, Farkus, Nature Show and Carta Marina — all of which have relied on his production talents in the past.

Stock has no current projects at Uptown Recording and has not worked in the studio since November. Friends say he is in the late rounds of a dogged battle that started about nine years ago with his first occurrence of cancer.

In 2010, doctors discovered a tumor in his brain that tested positive for melanoma. The next year, doctors discovered another tumor on his spine. After nine months of radiation treatment, doctors could do little to treat him other than manage his pain.

Melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, but it is the deadliest. About 77,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2013, and about 9,500 people are expected to die from it, according to the American Cancer Society. Melanoma rates have been increasing for 30 years.

Stock's focus these days, regardless of his condition, is on music and family. That hasn't changed, his loved ones said.

Stock, who is also a guitarist and lead vocalist for Chicago hard rock band Bruiser, said he began gravitating toward music when he started learning to play the piano at age 4. The Omaha native and Columbia College graduate played in bands throughout high school and college, and in 1997 moved to Chicago with his longtime friend and future wife Angie. They have a daughter, Charlie, who recently celebrated her fourth birthday at Chase Park in Uptown.

Stock moved to Uptown in 2001, and it was that same year he walked into Uptown Recording to record a project. He so loved the studio, and the staff there, that he asked to join the team. Stock has been on its roster of sound engineers and producers ever since.

Studio owner Matt Denny, 43, said Stock is a "no B.S." type of guy, who "made a name for himself here and was quickly one of our best engineers."

"He's 99.9 percent of the time able to take a bar band and elevate them to a band that plays at venues like the House of Blues and Lincoln Hall," Denny said, praising Stock's ear, musical vision and production prowess. "He's at the top of his game."

Stock didn't just earn a job and his reputation when he came to Uptown. He found friends who now consider him family, including Denny.

Their families spend a lot of time together, Denny said, whether they are on joint vacations, partying, sharing a meal or a laugh. Denny's wife Catherine said her family has "shared more laughs and meals" with Stock "than any of us could ever count."

"The man can deliver a back-handed compliment like nobody's business," Catherine Denny joked, "and is the first to offer help when it comes to finishing leftovers."

Her husband said Stock's little girl is with their five children "every other day" and sleeps over often. She is one of the reasons why Stock's fading health "almost shatters our universe," Denny said.

"There's so many aspects about this that affects us. But for me, my main focus that keeps me moving forward and keeps me focused on being positive is that my main concern is Angie and Charlie," Denny said. "I want our home to be a secure, safe, happy place for both of them."

Stock family friend Dan O'Conor, of Lincoln Square, said his three children consider Charlie their "little sister." They spend a lot of time with her, and the 43-year-old ad salesman has struggled to explain to them what is happening to Charlie's father.

"That's going to be the most difficult part for the kids, who don't understand the finality of death," O'Conor said.

O'Conor described Stock as a joker who "always had great hair and great facial hair." But when O'Conor saw him one day in November, his head had been shaved to a crew cut. It was a sign of his ordeal and worsening condition, even though O'Conor said Stock was in good spirits about a college football victory by one of his home-state teams.

Nobody — not Stock's friends, family or doctors — know how much time he has left. But he and others are hoping he at least lives to see the Feb. 7 concert.

Stock has the willpower to make through to the concert and beyond, Denny said of the man he calls "brother."

"Dan Stock is one stubborn son of a bitch. He does not take things lying down," Denny said. "The one thing you don't want to do is get on his bad side or get in his way. Because he's like a steamroller."

Asked how he finds the strength to cope and still pursue projects — especially something like the concert, which does not benefit him directly — Stock gave a simple answer. 

"You just kind of believe what you’re going to believe," he said, "and go from there."

Danstock tickets can be purchased here.