Keith Perks, of Wilkes-Barre, celebrates life, art and community with concert
WILKES-BARRE — Twenty years ago, Keith Perks used the end of a difficult time in his life to champion positivity, inspire his own creativity and rally the family, friends and creative community around him.
Now he looks back on two decades of motivation, art and friendship.
The 20 Years and Counting Show takes place from 7 p.m to 1 a.m. Nov. 19 at The Other Side. The show features performances by Empire of the Sea, Machine Arms, Auxilia, Tusko and Super Snake and celebrates Perks’ 20th year being cancer free.
But, according to Perks, 39, he is the last thing the show is truly about.
On Nov. 20, 1996, Perks received his final chemotherapy treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma, a pediatric form of bone cancer, and almost immediately poured himself into his creative efforts.
He formulated the ideas that would later become 1120 Studios, which he began as a graphic design firm in 2003 and later became a platform for producing and promoting local music and showcasing his photography.
“It wasn’t just me that had cancer,” Perks. “It affected all my friends and all my family. And it wasn’t me that beat it. It was all of us. This show is about all of us.”
Perks said he forgets his exact thoughts and explicit details of starting 1120 Studios, so he quoted some of his writing from the time.
“1120 is a moment,” he said. “It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance. It’s a moment in life that changes everything. It can encourage you, strengthen you and push you to do things you’ve never done before.”
Perks said 1120 Studios is now a launchpad for his ideas and a place for his friends and their projects to call home.
“Things might have changed over the years, but it has always been based on loyalty and friendships,” Perks said. “It’s also been a reminder that life is short and that tomorrow is promised to no one.”
Perks said the bands performing at the Nov. 19 show have been part of the 1120 community for a long time. He called them “extended family” and said he’s happy to bring them all together for the first time in years.
In Empire of the Sea, one member is travelling from Virginia, and in Auxilia, members are travelling from New York City and Portland, Ore. to play their first show in three years.
“I booked the show, and they all were asking me to allow them to play before I had the chance to ask them,” Perks said. “Those are the kind of guys they are, supportive and kind.”
Guitarist for Empire of the Sea, Mike Flaherty, of Old Forge, said Perks is considered a fifth member of the band.
“Keith’s been there to support us with his photography and his friendship,” Flaherty said. I would describe him as the most beautifully well-rounded person. He’s the most giving person you could ever come across. As far as this show, this is a celebration of bands coming together and celebrating local music and celebrating Keith.”
Perks said he’ll be celebrating his anniversary in a subtle way, with a shot of Jameson, as the clock welcomes Nov. 20 and he’s surrounded by friends.
“The show is not about me,” he said. “The show is about the music, the friends, the great venue allowing us to be there, the community and the art we created and still create.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO
What: 20 Years and Counting Show featuring Empire of the Sea, Machine Arms, Auxilia, Tusko and Super Snake
Where: The Other Side, 119 South Main St., Wilkes-Barre
When: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Nov. 19 into 20.
Additional information: Admission costs $8 at the door.