“Kathapalooza!” to Benefit Beloved Punk Rocker Battling Cancer

Underground Arts hosts a festival of bands from the ’80s and ’90s to raise funds for a local woman's treatment.

Six regionally renowned bands of the ’80s and ’90s are sharing the Underground Arts stage Arts this Saturday for an alternative type of Lollapalooza whose artists are gathering for a greater cause – helping to fund cancer treatment for a beloved punk rocker named Kathleen Mullaney.

After the Levittown native was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer last spring, Jason Cox, a close friend, used his influences as a recording engineer and record producer to organize “Kathapalooza!”

In the early ’90s, Mullaney tuned in to the rock scene at Khyber Pass on 2nd and Chestnut, where she and Cox went a few times a week to watch local punk bands. In 1994, she got her own chance to seize the stage after forming an all-girl band, named Grubby, with a four others, including Cox’s wife and Debbie Anderson of Zonic Shockum, who is playing at the benefit.

Mullaney was one of the band’s main singers and guitarists, as well as a songwriting contributor. Although she wasn’t officially trained in vocals or instrumentals, her missing a few notes here and there couldn’t hinder Grubby’s groove.

“The playing and talent was secondary to the fun they were having on stage,” says Cox, who recorded dozens of albums throughout the ’90s at Studio Red in Old City, including those of three of the six bands performing at the benefit. “Punk rock, from her perspective, is really about her style … her extroverted, enigmatic style … about who she is.”

In later years, Mullaney became a veterinary technician and a popular nanny. Arrangements are being made to transport her to Underground Arts from a rehabilitation center where she was transferred three weeks ago after extensive amounts of chemotherapy and radiation inhibited mobility in her legs.

The bands playing, including Creem Circus, Stepping Razor, Photon Band, Weird Hot, Zonic Shockum and Suffacox (mach2), also happened to be some of Mullaney’s favorites, which is why Cox was so eager to get them the gig.

“I didn’t think twice about doing something like this,” he says. “It’s a feel-good love fest we want to do for her where she can feel all of the love. She really, really is a true one of a kind.”

Tickets can be purchased here.