Double-slide Blues guitarist and songwriter Brian Cober, who has struggled with medical issues for the past two years, now reports that he has been diagnosed with “incurable” cancer after radiation and chemotherapy failed to stem a growth that has spread to his windpipe.
In a post on Facebook yesterday Cober, who had just returned to regular performing in August after seemingly recovering from brain surgery this summer, did not say what his future holds in terms of being able to play music but the post suggested he is still hospitalized.
“Once the doctors give me the go ahead I look forward to going home,” he wrote.
Cober, who turned 60 this past February, had previously had two operations for a cancer on his larynx in August and September of last year but was re-hospitalized early this past summer prior to the brain operation. By August he was back on stage, however, and had resumed his regular Sunday night role as host of the long-running jam night at Grossman’s Tavern as well as regular solo shows at Lola in Kensington Market.
His post doesn’t indicate when he was re-hospitalized nor exactly the details of the prognosis he has been given by doctors.
“My very aggressive cancer has shown up in my windpipe and radiation and chemo treatments have not had an effect. The cancer is considered incurable at this point,” he wrote.
“Hopefully, I will still be around for a while,” he added.
Cober first started coming to the attention of Blues fans in Toronto in the mid 1990s, when, as we detailed in a cover story for Issue #025 of my to-nite magazine in June of 1994, he and bassist Paul McNamara [who passed away tragically and unexpectedly in 2008], had already been performing together for a decade as The Nationals since starting in their hometown of Preston, Ontario before it became part of Cambridge.
His unique double-slide method of playing Blues guitar evolved over the years and has become a calling card as he has become a popular attraction at Blues festivals as well as, of course, a Sunday fixture at Grossman’s.
Friends have organized a show at the club to take place this coming Friday, November 18 to pay tribute to him but at this point it’s not clear whether he’ll be well enough to attend.