Giving Back, With Music

As a person, I’ve always been charitable. Even when rather destitute, I would give a dollar here or there to a person with a cup or the charity posted outside the grocery store. I live semi-comfortably now and my wife and I contribute to charities and family/friends in need regularly, because we know what it’s like being on the other side. We never expect payback, but ask for the person or entity to simply pay it forward when they are able.

To me, one of the most important aspects of being a musician is giving back to the community. Yes, it’s always important to write new material and get it in front of people. However, helping those in need should be a priority. I know many main stream bands are involved with philanthropy, but the local bands here in New England have done so much over the years as well.

Local bands support many causes that can include putting a show together to help families coping with the loss of a loved one to couples getting married starting a new life. One of the biggest ones I recall was called Moody Fest. Joe Moody was a sound engineer who helped many local bands put their best sounds on CD. He always worked for the little guy, offering discounts on recording and making them sound great. When he passed, there was such an outpouring of support towards his family that the festival was organized in his honor. Bands that hadn’t played together in years reunited for this one special occasion to pay tribute to a man who helped so many. There were raffles, food, even a slideshow of his life. It was a very moving display of love and respect.

One of the most horrific events in RI music history (the U.S. as well) occurred on February 20, 2003. The rock band Great White was doing a show at The Station nightclub when they lit off pyrotechnics that caused the sound insulation in the ceiling and walls to catch fire. The type of insulation spread the fire rapidly throughout the club creating thick billowing smoke that made it extremely difficult to see. 100 people died that night and another 230 were injured. In November of 2003, The Station Family Fund, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization was founded by survivors of the incident.

Nearly every year, there is some kind of benefit to help the survivors of this tragic event. Many of the injured survivors have had numerous surgeries due to burns from the fire and have incurred large medical expenses. Even those who escaped without physical injuries have been suffering with psychological issues such as PTSD. For the five-year anniversary, Dee Snider, lead singer of Twisted Sister, put together a benefit concert. He was upset with how the victims of the fire were not getting help from state/federal resources and took matters into his own hands. The show raised $175,000 and brought awareness to the difficulties survivors were going through at a national level.

This year, The Station Memorial Park was finally completed and opened to the public. The governor and senator of RI gave speeches and local bands played with the survivors and hundreds of others looking on. In conjunction with the opening, a local promoter has organized an all day/night event to bring in donations and awareness to The Station Family Fund.

Next weekend, my band will be playing an event we organized called Rise of the Valkyries II. Not only is it a showcase for local New England female fronted rock and metal bands, but a huge charity event for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance. My mom died from ovarian cancer a little over two years ago, so this event is very close to heart for me. At our last charity event, a couple of months ago, we raised nearly $800 for the Leukemia Research Foundation and we’re hoping to do even better this time.

The above are just some examples of how giving back can have profound effects at local and national levels not just monetarily, but by bringing awareness to the organization and the issue at hand. No matter who you are, please consider philanthropy in some way. There are many organizations out there who support causes that might impact you, whether it be a local food bank, firefighters fund, or even a friend in need. Give back, pay it forward, and make an impact in this world.

-Scott Duncan - MU Columnist

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