Musical Inspiration: Can-Do-Musos


If you ask someone to close their eyes and describe a “Rock Star”, very few would say someone with no arms, no legs, or mention someone with other disabalities. But there is a world of musicians who are differently abled than the rest of us.

They, like everyone else who has a passion for music, have common issues we share in life. But, unlike the majority of us, they have to overcome a variety of issues most of us wouldn’t even think twice about, such as loading their equipment in for gigs that are not equipped to deal with their disability. Thankfully, there is an amazing, global organization out there that has been formed by musicians with disabilities to assist other handi-capable musicians. Meet Can-Do-Musos and their Board of Directors: Dom Famularo, Andrew Hewitt, David Segal, Mike Mignogna and Joe Hardy. Here is the back story of Can-Do-Musos and some of the exceptional people involved.

“Founded in March 2013, Can-Do-Musos was established to promote and support musicians with disabilities from all over the world. A Can-Do Muso is a musician with challenges who is very passionate about their music. We use the word “challenges” with Can-Do-Musos because, quite often disability gets mis-interpreted as inability. People with challenges can overcome them and be empowered and successful. Can-Do-Musos was established to promote and support musicians who face “challenges” in their lives from all over the world.”

Over the past 2 years I have met some of the Muso’ s first hand and I can tell you the talent and passion they posses blows away many fully able bodied musicians I have seen on stage.
Instead of me telling you what I think of who they are, let them speak for themselves. Here are some quotes from a panel that I was able to see live at NAMM 2016. The Can-Do-Musos panel was in my opinion the best event at the NAMM show, for the second year in a row. I got to hear the musicians both speak and play. I was touched, inspired, and rocked.

Dom Famularo, speaking about drummer Andrew Hewitt he said,”His drive to want to play drums, and to want to play music was awe-inspiring.” About the musicians involved in Can-Do-Musos he states… “Disabled sounds like they are not able, and you know what? They are, at the highest level.” About the inspiration behind Can-Do-Musos he concluded… “That’s when we started Can-Do-Musos. What impressed me so much was their Can Do attitude. Whatever came down, they said, “I can do it.” Regarding the cost of being involved… “lt is zero cost for anyone with a challenge to be involved.” The inspiration and goal…”To me, it’s all about playing music. And when you have a challenge and overcome it, that’s inspiration at it’s highest. .. The goal is to someday have a thousand musicians from 50 different countries.”

Andrew Hewitt had the following to say… “When I first started playing drums there was no Google, or Youtube. There was no way of contacting other musicians. You had to figure it out for yourself, and as a ten year old it was pretty difficult to figure out.” Regarding the label disabled/disability he stated, “We want to get rid of the word disability within the music scene. We want people to take notice of musicians with a challenge.”

Dave Segal stated the following… “It’s bigger than me, or anyone else, and it’s become this whole big thing of helping each other …. I had to have 20+ surgeries to even be able to walk, and even then they weren’t sure. So after that, I said, “I want to be a drummer!”

Drummer Joe Hardy, born without legs, added… “It’s always been my dream to help other musicians with disabilities to achieve their goals.”

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Mark Goffeney, a.k.a. “Big Toe”, said, “I was also born with a disability … one of having a really humongous nose, and also I was born with no arms … I didn’t want to be inspirational. I didn’t want to be someone who you said to, “Wow! You can play with your feet.” I just wanted to rock. That was the way to meet girls, that was the way to be cool. And I loved the music … Music has to find a way to come out of you. It’s not your privilege, it’s your responsibility.”

Brandon Mendenhall, guitarist and founding member of “The Mendenhall Experiment” stated the following… “I started playing guitar when I was 15, and my hand was partially paralyzed. When one finger moved, they all moved. “Nothing in life is impossible. You can do and be whatever you want to be, you just have to put your mind to it. Mind over matter.”

Drummer Rusty Bryce added, “Ten years went by, and I was pretty much done playing the drum set. I was ready to pack it up and just say, “Welp, that was a time in my past I guess.” Certain things led to other things, and it just made me say, “There’s got to be one more way.”

These are just some of the people of Can-Do Musos. They have spent their lives following their musical passions … they just happen to have a different road than the rest of us. Many of them will tell you they do music because music heals them in some way. The Can-Do-Musos community is growing so be sure to stop by the page and see where and how you can be involved. I promise you, whether you know it or not, there is a Can-Do Muso in your community.

Written by Melissa #MischievousMel Anderson, Pics Copyright Rockwell Anderson Media, LLC

Born without legs, Joe Hardy plays a set with his band Unit 287 at the Gaslamp in Long Beach, CA

“Australia’s Most Inspirational Drummer” and member of Can-Do-Musos, Andrew Hewitt, poses with his wife Jennifer and a copy of ROCKwell Mag advertising Can-Do-Musos at Winter NAMM 2016 in Anaheim, CA
The Mendenhall Experiment
Brandon Mendenhall playing a hometown show in Riverside, CA