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Play disc golf to raise money for Dub DeBrie

Benefit tournament for local music legend is Saturday

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: SETH GORDON - Dub DeBrie, who has battled AIDS for 20 years, looks forward to his weekly 'Play or Die' open jam sessions at the C.I. Bar and Grill  in Tualatin.Singer Michelle Sawyer began attending local musician Dub DeBrie’s “Play or Die” open jam sessions at the C.I. Bar and Grill in Tualatin about two and a half years ago, but has become a zealous regular in the past couple months.

Her focus at his shows in recent weeks, however, has been on sales, not singing.

She’s been busy peddling golf discs embossed with Dub’s likeness, and they’ve been flying off the shelves.

They’re a major component of the disc golf fundraiser tournament — Dub DeBrie Dubs — she’s throwing for him Saturday at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains.

Similar to the benefit show that drew about 600 people to the Roseland Theater in 2010, there has been an outpouring of support from friends and fans of the longtime Portland guitarist.

In addition to a slew of donations she’s received for the tournament raffle, Sawyer recently sold out of discs and has put in a rush order to get more in time for the tournament.

She announced at a recent show that she was founding a nonprofit foundation in his name and, even after weeks of selling various tournament merchandise, by the time the show was over, patrons had donated the $400 fee required to file a with the IRS.

The tournament got its start when Sawyer found out from DeBrie’s wife, Anne, that he had always wanted to see the Barringer Crater in Arizona.

At first she figured she would fly them down to do just that, but learned from Anne that Dub’s health would prevent him from traveling by plane.

Disc Golf or Die

Although DeBrie has never played the game, Sawyer is an avid player. As she searched for another way to do something for her friend, it clicked that she could pretty quickly rally her friends in the disc golf community for a benefit tournament.

She teamed up with Disc Golf or Die founder Dan Brown to get the tournament off the ground and even found there was some crossover among the fans and disc golfers.

And when Anne saw the connection between the disc golf club’s name and the jam session, she was totally on board.

“Dub has wanted to leave a legacy because he realizes that his battle with AIDS could help others, but he’s never really known how to go about it,” Sawyer said. “An annual tournament, when I looked at it, I saw it as ideal.”

DeBrie’s primary income comes from the playing the open jam sessions on Thursday nights and the Conroy-DeBrie Band shows he does Friday and Saturday nights with Anne and Tony Conroy at the C.I.

However, DeBrie has been weakened by AIDS-related wasting, which includes atrophy and severe osteoporosis, and has been in dire need of a break from performing.

Proceeds from the tournament will support the DeBries as they take the month of March off.

“He’ll play Thursday, Friday and Saturday night then, essentially according to Anne, he’ll sleep and rest in bed from the end of that Saturday night gig and wake up just before that Thursday gig, and do it all over again,” Sawyer said. “It’s severe strain on his body with where he’s at right now. But he pushes himself so hard consistently to continue to play.”

Sawyer plans to make the tournament an annual affair and has partnered with the Cascade AIDS project, which first diagnosed DeBrie and will help her find a local family for the tournament to benefit.

It’s her belief that people need to meet people like Dub and Anne, not just because of their talent and warmth, but to get a different perspective on life.

“There may be days that we don’t feel well, but you look at somebody like Dub who’s been suffering from AIDS for 20 years and watch him go on stage, if you didn’t know him personally, you’d be hard-pressed to tell,” Sawyer said. “It’s a valuable lesson to play or die, or disc or die, or write or die — to live your life.”

For more information, visit dubdebriedubs.com.

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