Musicians Emergency Resource Foundation Inc. - Serving the Louisville music community since 1982

MERF's beginning....


Marvin Maxwell was one hell of a drummer in 1981, playing with local and national acts in studio and on stage. Then, disaster struck. He was in a car accident that left him pretty banged up and his heel and ankle a fine pulp of bone powder. As they are often the first to do, musicians got together to have a benefit and raised quite a bit of money to help him, but Marvin also had a big heart. It turns out his insurance was pretty good, and he couldn’t help but pay it forward when he heard of a friend and fellow musician with cancer.

“I called him up and told him to come up and meet me,” says Maxwell. “Then, I gave him a big ole’ bag of cash.”

This is the giving spirit that has kept Musician’s Emergency Resource Foundation (MERF) since that very first benefit. At first, it was a collective fund that musicians could pay into and count on in times of need, but it became a legal non-profit in 2004 and now has a dedicated board of directors who vette and vote on aid requests, helping working music industry professionals in times of crisis.

In the early years of MERF, most of Louisville’s music scene and radio stations would get involved raising funds to keep it funded. There were a lot more live music venues at the time, and some of the fundraiser festivals would boast up to 100 bands for a single fee.

“There were a lot more nightclubs up and down Main Street, and we’d put bands at all of them,” said Maxwell. “For five bucks, you could go up and down and see them all.”

Maxwell is no longer involved in running MERF, but the volunteers continue to keep it alive with fundraisers and donations from people and companies who understand the importance of some of society’s most vulnerable members. Music industry professionals continue to be on the front line when someone needs a benefit, but MERF is often their last option for help with basic or medical needs when they are faced with struggles.

“Merf needs money,” says Maxwell. “Give MERF some money.”


Board of Directors


Matt Mercurio

Matt Mercurio: A native Louisvillian who has spent most of his life in the Louisville area. At age 7 and with a Christmas present from Santa, Matt received his first guitar and in his own words, "has been miserably trying to play it ever since then." Growing up with music embedded in his brain by his Dad's love for Bobby Bare, Johnny Paycheck, Merle Haggard, Dave Allan Coe, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and others...Matt has had a passion for music. At age 12 with the purchase of Kiss Alive II album, Matt started playing in his first garage band and has been trying to get out of the garage ever since. He is quoted as saying, "My passion for music is much more than my true talent for playing guitar...it's like a mean joke...God gave me the passion for music, but never gave me the pure talent to play..." If asked, Matt will tell you his style of music spans across Rythym and Blues, to Rock, to "old" country, all the way out to classical. John Lee Hooker is Matt's biggest influence of guitar style and the styles of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Muddy Waters, and Buddy Guy are some of his top guitar heroes. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Jonny Lang are also included in that same conversation. Led-Zeppelin is what Matt considers to be the best rock and roll group of the century. Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Crosby Stills Nash, and Young, and so many others following behind. Now-a-days, Matt is listening to the likes of Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Bottle Rockets, Todd Snider, The Mavericks, and Loves the song "My Dad was a Bad Ass" - by Jesse Dayton. Matt's profession by day is in Enterprise Technology Sales for the Government and Education space of the state of Kentucky. He has owned several small businesses in Louisville including a start-up launched in 2009 which won "Most innovative Technology Business" in Louisville by TEN (Technology Entrepreneur Network). Matt joined MERF almost 5 years ago and found a true passion for helping and supporting the local music community. He is now serving as President of MERF and is honored to be part of such a beloved and respected Louisville based organization. He is an avid lover of U of K, an "OK" golfer, and lover of good whiskey and cigars in his spare time. Fun Fact #12-098: In 2005, Matt's house was used as part of the movie "Elizabethtown" and he can be seen hiding in the bushes watching the filming in a few scenes... ;)

Vice President


Details coming soon...



BUTCH ELLIS: A native Louisvillian who has been performing in public since age 14 when he was the drummer and eventually the bass player for Up With People, Sing Out Louisville. He played bass in a fifties band throughout his Westport High School years and various rock bands when away at Murray State earning a BSB in marketing. Upon returning to Louisville he co-founded Eclipse, a jazz/rock fusion band. Other bands in Louisville include Curtis and the Kicks, The Titanic Juke Band, Rasta Imposta, Titan, Norman Rocks Well and currently a first-rate Elton John Tribute band, Madmen Across the Water. He has been a professional photographer/videographer for more than 30 years and owned Copy Cat Video, a video duplicating business for over 15 years. He has two fine sons, Shea and Kian, both of whom are proficient with cameras. Butch is devastatingly handsome.



Details coming soon...

Chief Services Officer

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Chief Marketing Officer

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