Koncert for Keith: Musicians pitch in for Smyrna sound man with cancer

DOVER — A man who has been behind the scenes for many years is now front and center in the minds and hearts of the local music community.

Keith Talmud, 49, of Smyrna, who has been the sound engineer for scores of area bands and events over the years and the sound and lighting technician at Harrington Casino since 2004, has been battling colon and liver cancer for the past decade.

On Tuesday, he was moved into hospice care, suffering from Stage IV of the disease.

Sunday’s Koncert for Keith benefit at Dover’s Cowboy Up Saloon will bring out a who’s who of local talent starting at 2 p.m. — all to raise money for

Keith Talmud, 49 of Smyrna, was diagnosed with cancer on his 40th birthday. (Submitted photo)

his family and the man they have relied on for years.

“He has a lot of friends in the music business,” said event organizer Frank Palicka, a veteran of two bands that have worked with Mr. Talmud over the years.

“He’s just a super guy. This is a chance for us to spread love to him and his family and show him what he’s meant to all us.”

Four members of Mr. Palicka’s band Mudsplash Bullfrog, a rock group popular in the area in the late 1990s and early 2000s, will reunite for the show.

They will be joined by Mike Hines and the Look, Glass Onion, Timeless, Joey Fulkerson, Jim Rezac, Ashley Mitchell & Donny Marvel and members of The Fabulous Hubcaps. It will be hosted by “Foul Mouth Al” Leskovar Jr.

The benefit, which will run from 2 to 7 p.m., will be capped off by an all-star jam session.

“I saw him a couple of weeks ago and knew he wasn’t doing very well and I just knew we had to do something for him,” Mr. Palicka said of his longtime friend.

“I knew a bunch of musicians who had worked with him and they have just come in droves. I also knew Cowboy Up would be a great place to have it, having been there with my bands when it was Froggy’s. The folks at Cowboy Up have been great in letting us have it there.”

Power of music

For Mr. Hines and others, participating in Sunday’s benefit was automatic.

“Keith has been a great friend and sound man for hundreds of bands over the years and it breaks our hearts to see how cancer has affected Keith and his family,” said Mr. Hines, who, in recent years, has worked with Mr. Talmud during his shows at Harrington’s Gold Room.

“When (another organizer) Erik Durnall and Frank Palicka reached out to me and others and asked if we’d be willing to participate, there was no hesitation from anyone. The power of music is a beautiful thing and we look forward to bringing people together to help Keith and his family in their time of need.”

2 p.m. Foul Mouth Al
2:25 p.m. Jim Rezac
3 p.m. Timeless
3:40 p.m. Ashley & Donny
4:10 p.m. Mudsplash
4:50 p.m. Joey Fulkerson
5:25 p.m. The Hubcaps
6:05 p.m. Glass Onion
6:45 p.m. Mike Hines and the Look
All-Star Jam to follow

Dale Teat, of Glass Onion, has known Mr. Talmud for many years.

“Working with him (through) my band and selling him equipment through my store (Earle Teat Music), I believe he was the first sound man we ever used,” Mr. Teat said.

“It was at a place called Bulldozers in Smyrna many years ago. In recent years since Glass Onion plays Harrington Casino once a month, we would see him there every month. He hasn’t been there the last couple of months. Everyone likes Keith and when we got the call, my guys all changed their schedules for the day so we could be there for the benefit.”

All say it’s Mr. Talmud’s friendly, outgoing nature that sets him apart.

“He’s the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back,” Mr. Palicka said.

Christina Sluder found that out firsthand almost 22 years ago when she came to him in desperate straits.

“He took me in when I was seven months’ pregnant with my second child and I had no where else to go. He’s helped me out so much over the years,” said Ms. Sluder who eventually became Mr. Talmud’s girlfriend and mother to his two children.

“He ended up raising the baby as his own. He always said that the mistakes he made with her, he made up for when we had two of our own.”

All told, Ms. Sluder has 24-year old Rich and 21-year old Kasydi from her previous marriage and she and Mr. Talmud have Kelli, 20, and Tabitha, 13. There is also 7-month-old granddaughter, Lily.

Cancer strikes

Mr. Talmud, a 1986 Dover High graduate, was diagnosed with colon cancer on his 40th birthday in February of 2008. Chemotherapy followed but five years later, the disease returned with a vengeance when another cancerous tumor was found.

Cancer metastasized to Mr. Talmud’s liver in 2014.

In the beginning of September, another tumor was found in his colon that is considered inoperable.

Stays at the University of Pennsylvania and Bayhealth hospitals have been commonplace over the past 10 years. Chemotherapy has been delivered

Keith Talmud and Christina Sluder have been together for almost 22 years. They have two children together. He took Ms. Sluder into his home when she was seven months’ pregnant with her second child from a previous marriage. (Submitted photo)

directly to his liver at times.

Through it all though, Ms. Sluder said Mr. Talmud’s attitude has been upbeat.

“Up until recently, he was very strong and hopeful. He was always cracking jokes, always with a very positive outlook. He would say ‘We’re going to beat it. No matter what,’” Ms. Sluder said.

“He was always a favorite of the doctors and nurses when he went in for his chemotherapy. He always went into that with a smile on his face and an upbeat attitude.”

Ms. Sluder said her boyfriend’s perennial smile started to fade last month.

He tried to work a show featuring The Fabulous Hubcaps on Nov. 17 at Harrington’s Gold Room but he couldn’t make it through.

“That was the first time he had ever called to ask me to come pick him up,” she said.

Ms. Sluder drove him to another job at Harrington on Dec. 1 featuring the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute band Ornament.

“But he couldn’t stick with it,” Ms. Sluder said.

Glenn Subers, director of entertainment at Harrington Raceway and Casino, said Mr. Talmud has been a valued employee.

“Throughout the years, Keith was able to make many friends in the music industry that came in for the shows and I can’t think of a time that I ever got a complaint from an artist,” he said.

“Rather, they all continued to praise Keith’s impeccable talent to making the artists sound the best they could. Keith also made many friends with other employees through the years and considered his workplace a second home. His love of what he did is truly a testament to Keith as a person.”

Money woes

Frequent medical care has put a dent in the family’s bank account, rendering them virtually bankrupt. Ms. Sluder said there have been times when Mr. Talmud has been forced to pay out of pocket and the chemotherapy company has called to say they would stop treating him if a payment wasn’t made.

He set up a GoFundMe page in April of 2016, which so far has raised $7,470.

Earlier this month, he wrote on the page, “Things have been getting worse. I am embarrassed to even have to ask, finances are really tight, if you are able to donate a small amount please do what you can. I really appreciate anything you can do. Thanks in advance.”

Ms. Sluder said asking folks for money has never been his style.

“He hated asking people for money. Asking for money is the last thing he wanted,” Ms. Sluder said.

“For as long as I can remember, he was always there for others with his sound company (Syzmic Action Sound) that he co-owns with Bill Rust. He helped out with things like June Jam and the Amish Country Bike Tour.”


18dsn Mike Hines by .

Mike Hines and The Look will headline a benefit concert for Keith Talmud Sunday at Cowboy Up Saloon in Dover.

Ms. Sluder said the thought of Sunday’s benefit has been gratifying.

“Back in 2013, Mike Hines was a part of a benefit at (Walter L. Fox Post 2) in Dover. My kids and I had a great time at that one,” she said.

“It’s beyond belief that there would be another one. We did not expect this at all.”

Having members of The Fabulous Hubcaps take part is especially touching.

“They have been wonderful with Keith. They made him an honorary member of the band a few years ago. Every time they’ve come to town, they have brought him a little gift and have always asked about him and checked up on him,” she said.

Ms. Sluder said she and her family will be at Sunday’s event, hopefully with Mr. Talmud.

“We’ve asked the nurses and doctors that if he’s able, is it OK to take him out to it and they said we could,” she said.

Ms. Sluder said her daughter Kasydi is getting shirts for the family to wear to show their support for him.

“We weren’t really expecting any of this. Knowing that there are all these bands out there that are willing to help is really humbling. It’s overwhelming, really.”

A $10 cover charge will be taken at the door. Cowboy Up is at 1036 Lafferty Lane in Dover.

The day will also include a silent auction. To donate items, contact Mr. Palicka at 302-228-3608.

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