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Musicians Raise More Than $20K For Jax Sound Engineer Waiting For 2 Organ Transplants

Debbie Ricks
Jacksonville-based Sugarfoot band performs at the fundraiser

Hundreds packed Justice Pub in Downtown Jacksonville Sunday for a 12-hour fundraising concert for 48-year-old Maurice “Moe” Ricks, a long-time local music producer and engineer waiting for a heart and kidney transplant. 

At the “I know Moe” benefit concert, nearly a dozen bands performed at their own expense. Bartenders and other staff worked for free, and five local establishments pitched in. By the end of the night, they raised more than $20,000. 

Credit Debbie Ricks
Attendees sign the "I Know Moe" poster

Keith Marks was one of the organizers of the benefit. He runs a music nonprofit and hosts Avant Radio on WJCT, 89.9 FM. 

Marks said Ricks has played a key part in Jacksonville’s music scene. “Part of the reason that we still have a lot of the music from back in the day is because of Moe, he said. “Moe’s impact on the music of this city can’t be [overstated].” 

Ricks has been recording local bands since 1997, when he returned to Jacksonville after starting his studio career in San Francisco. In 2005, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, a disease that slowly deteriorates the heart. The disease progressed to the point where he needs a heart and kidney transplant. 

“So it’s a little bit more complicated because it has to come from the same donor,” said Marco Monroy, who organized the fundraiser. “It’s not that it’s easy to get a heart transplant or a kidney transplant, but it makes it a little bit more difficult to get one.” 

Credit Debbie Ricks
48-year-old Maurice "Moe" Ricks waits for heart and kidney transplant.

In June, Ricks found a match. He was scheduled for the surgery last week, but while waiting at the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville for his new heart and kidney to arrive, a flock of geese flew into the plane carrying the organs and forced an emergency landing. The organs expired. 

That’s when the artists came together to help their friend. Debbie Ricks, Moe’s sister, said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.  

“A lot of the bands that came out tonight were bands that he recorded back in the 90s. Some of them haven’t played together for years,” she said. “But they all came together for him.” 

The musicians flew in from as far away as New York City and Germany. One of them is Ali Bryan, who is a Miami-based artist. 

“We’re just trying to send positive energy and also to raise money for Moe and his medical procedures,” he said. “Moe is really one of those integral parts of the music scene that’s going on now.  

Bryan, who is originally from Jacksonville, said Ricks’ work is the foundation for the River City’s music scene.

Credit Debbie Ricks
Nearly a dozen bands performed at the fundraiser

The “I Know Moe” event was sponsored by AVL Productions, Burrito Gallery, Taqueria Cinco, and Avant. And Justice Pub opened its doors for free.   

Organizers say the proceeds from the fundraiser alone are not enough to cover Ricks’ medical expenses, which have reached a quarter of a million dollars. The organizers are encouraging people to donate to Ricks’ Gofundme Transplant Fund.