Evan Wallace is the man keeping tabs on the donations flowing in since word got out that fanatically beloved barman Murray Stenson needs open-heart surgery. And there’s something he wants you to know: “Murray’s not going to die,” says Wallace. He's had a few conversations with panicked bartenders from other towns, concerned they need to hold a fundraiser tonight and FedEx the money tomorrow morning.
While Stenson is unable to work his shifts at Canon and needs a heart valve replacement, "it's not urgently acute and he's not in any discomfort," says Wallace. Granted any medical procedure brings the unknown, but right now Stenson fully intends to return to work once he has that new valve.
“His situation isn’t urgently acute and he’s not in any discomfort," reports Wallace. "He just can't exert himself because he doesn't get enough oxygen to his brain and he faints." This week Stenson will hear more specific recommendations from his doctors—and learn more about how much all this will cost.
So far, the MurrayAid effort has raised $111,385, an impressive total that doesn't even include recent events like the one at Lecosho, and about $6,000 from a Boston fundraiser). Online donations still appear every day, and a calendar of benefits from Seattle to San Francisco to Singapore is in full swing.
Wallace says his famously private friend is getting a little more accustomed to having his personal concerns out in the public eye. When he first informed Stenson of his intent to spearhead a fundraising effort, he pledged, "I promise you on my honor that I will handle this in a way that is dignified." Of course, that was before people got in touch offering to make buttons and T-shirts. Soon the MurrayAid website will feature a "Murr-chandise" section.
"The dignity ship has sailed," Wallace allows. But he says Stenson got a kick out of the Murrch idea. While Wallace has been scrambling to keep up with the tidal wave of support, he's glad for a chance to do something for the man who, in 23 years of friendship, has always found a crafty way to pick up the tab for a shared meal, drink, or cup of coffee.
Some of the bigger events coming up in Seattle include a trio of November dinners by Ethan Stowell and Branden Karow with cocktails by Jamie Boudreau in the private cellar room at Staple and Fancy, and the Blur Ball December 2, put on by the Washington Distiller's Guild but featuring an aution and roughly 8 million local bartenders and chefs. Today Barrio is dedicating all sales from its half-price tequila Mondays (and barman Casey Robison's tips) to MurrayAid.