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In Spite Of Quake, Show Goes On to Aid Ailing Musician

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Herman Wilson has spent a lifetime backing up Bay Area musicians. Sunday night in Vallejo, they had his back.

At 3:20am on Sunday, The Empress Theater in Vallejo rocked with the rest of the North Bay.

A little more than 12 hours later it rock and rolled.

The Hugz For Hermz benefit concert went on as scheduled Sunday evening amid widespread damage in downtown Vallejo. Dozens of musicians, many of whose own homes were damaged by the quake, felt the cause was too important not to play.

Herman Wilson, 57, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 26 years ago. NBC Bay Area

Hugz For Hermz was organized to benefit long-time Bay Area musician, Herman Wilson. Herman, 57, has been a fixture in the North Bay blues, jazz and soul music scenes for decades. He has played saxophone in dozen's of bands and with countless other musicians. All this, in spite of being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 26 years ago.

Recently, though, as the damage to his nervous system has become more pronounced, Herman has trouble with some of life's simplest activities such as walking.

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But playing the sax? That, Herman can still do.

"To still do what I do with what I am going through? That makes it even sweeter," Herman says.

And, it should be noted, it is something Herman still wants to do be able to do for many years if he can forestall the advancement of his disease.

The Empress Theater marquee, as seen Sunday night, Aug. 24, 2014.

Herman has his heart set on an experimental treatment for ms (uncovered by insurance) that would cost $15,000.

It is a testament to the many years of good will Herman has built up among his music friends that when they found out what he needed they decided to put on a show to help him out.

Long-time Bay Area music promoter, Jeff Trager, took the lead in getting the acts together. Jeff says he has dealt with literally thousands of musicians in his four decades in the industry, but few with a heart as big as Herman's.

When Jeff's mother recently passed away, Herman played at her memorial service. He refused payment. "That's Herman," says Jeff, "it's all about giving back.

If you would like to contribute to the Hugz For Hermz fund, click here.

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