New Jersey man raises awareness for epilepsy by hosting concerts in living room

Eric Miller of Pennington, New Jersey spends much of his time organizing concerts that feature the likes of Jeffrey Gaines, The Young Dubliners and Ari Hest, but he’s not a concert promoter.

Miller holds the concerts in his living room to honor his late wife, Carolina, who died last year of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Miller’s wife was just 25-years-old.

The house concerts are held to raise awareness about the disease and to generate funding for research, treatment and one day a cure.

“It’s in an intimate setting — in my home. I started the series with Jeffrey Gaines on May 5. I’ll also have John Wesley Harding, Francis Dunnery, Ari Hest, Sharon Little and Carsie Blanton, Dan Reed and many others coming in. There will even a be five-piece Celtic rock band called The Young Dubliners. They typically headline on WXPN radio’s World Cafe or the Sellersville Theatre when coming through Philly.”

The very first concerts started last March, and led to the creation of Candlelight Concerts for Epilepsy Awareness. The first show raised about $5,000.

Miller has several upcoming shows planned for his living room, which he says can hold up to 40 people.

“It’ll be mostly singer-songwriters. There will be some duos and trios. What’s paid for the tickets goes to the performers. For the charity piece, I’m using stageit.com. You can stream the show live that way. You have to create an account to buy a ticket and you make a donation. A dime is the minimum. It’s not so much about raising the funds as it as about getting the message out. My focus is not just on my wife’s story, but on getting the message out about epilepsy and SUDEP.”

Miller’s late wife, Carolina Barcelos Carneiro de Oliveira Miller, died last August. She was from Brazil.

“She’s resting there now,” Miller said. Carolina was diagnosed with epilepsy in her teenage years. She took medication daily but managed to keep her disease private.

“Each concert will be a great night of music for a great cause,” Miller said.

John Wesley Harding played Miller’s living room in a concert held earlier this month.

“He’s a critics’ darling. His resume is longer than your arm. He’s recorded duets with Bruce Springsteen and has appeared onstage with Lou Reed and Joan Baez.

Other artists, such as Dan Reed and Ari Hest are scheduled to perform in shows later this summer.

Miller says members of the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey are expected to attend the concerts.

“They’ll have fliers and information to distribute, on first aid procedures for someone having a seizure and many other topics related to epilepsy.”

Although held in a small venue, Miller says the concerts are built for comfort.

“I’ll have beverages, snacks and chairs for everyone.”

You can read more about Candlelight Concerts on the organization’s website, where you’ll find a schedule of upcoming shows.

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