Remembering Dallas' Jason Merito With a Benefit Concert

It seems like that, in the last two years, we've lost too many musicians and industry leaders in the North Texas music scene: Ronald Shannon Jackson, Kidd Kraddick, Donovan Warren, Monte Aaron Krause, DJ Quick Chris, Summer Amshoff and, of course, Mike Scaccia.

Now Jason Merito joins the list of North Texas artists we should remember. He died of complications from accidentally overdosing on allergy medication on Sunday, March 2.

"To the best of my knowledge," said Mike Rios, a friend and coworker, "when he shot himself, it caused him to go into a state of shock like a coma. Oxygen quit going to his brain."

The doctors kept Merito sedated, hoping the medicine would run its course. A few days later when they tried to revive him, he was unresponsive.

They held his funeral on Friday, March 7.

Merito was a drum tech for The Valentine Failures and Lowside, but he lived and breathed the music scene. He often could be seen helping other local bands load in equipment. He also worked in marketing at Head First Entertainment, promoting music.

"Jason Merito was one of those rare people who did things for all the right reasons," wrote Dave Tedder of Head First Entertainment in a recent blog post. "He was the most happy go lucky person you'd ever meet, and he was a fiercely loyal to family and friends."

Lillian Axe guitarist Steve Blaze remembers seeing Merito in the crowd whenever his band played a gig in Dallas or Houston. "He was part of the fabric, woven into the essence of the music and the scene."

A benefit concert will be held on Friday, March 14, at the Red Blood Club just off Commerce Street. The lineup includes a special acoustic set from Ron Darren of Lowside/Lillian Axe and, for one night only, The Valentine Failures are reforming to play in honor of Merito, one of the band's biggest fans. No Regrets, Rocket Queen, Hopeless Romantica and A Whisper to Riot will also make an appearance. Doors open at 8 p.m., and show starts at 9 p.m.

There will be a silent auction that includes rare rock 'n' roll memorabilia autographed by King Diamond, ABSU, Ghoultown, Lillian Axe and many more.

Proceeds will go to help Merito's family with medical bills.

"Even if you didn't know Jason and just want to see some great bands and get some great times," said Wayne Kasket, "you would be helping a great cause."

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.