Making Music in the Face of Tragedy: How Artists Come Together to Heal Newtown
“One thing I’ve learned is that there are two groups of people that are first and foremost when it comes to doing benefits. Especially when it comes to children. Bikers and musicians, in that order.” Peter Bova, The Patrones
If music is how feelings sound like, the past several weeks, musicians and non-musicians stepped up in response to the events last month in Sandy Hook. It’s no surprise that after tragedy people need inspiration and Ct’s musicians know that music often fills the void where the soul needs healing.
Bova says, “Music is a universal language that predates language. It’s in all of us. Whether it flows through our fingers, over the vocal chords, or out of a set of speakers. It fuels our rage, heals our wounds, expresses our emotions. There’s always a song in our heads. Quiet or loud, it’s there.”
Paul Kramarz, of Bad Rooster, and his wife drove through Newtown the day after Christmas and were amazed to find cars from all over the country and people just walking in the cold quiet air, some held their head in their hands, some were crying, all were trying to find some peace and make sense of the unthinkable.
He said it was a display of humanity, our vulnerability and our fragility. He talked to a resident of Newtown who told him the people of the town don’t need any more memorials, of course they appreciate the show of love and understand that we want to send stuffed animals and green ribbons, but these things will eventually disintegrate.
But here’s what won’t, he was told: How about looking up the victim’s obituaries and finding what charities the parent/families want to donate to, on behalf of their child? That’s one idea. Another is to embrace the healing power of music, either by supporting artist who write the music or attending musical benefits, where musicians donate their time to be part of something bigger than themselves.
I paid $20.00 and a little extra for my drink a few Sundays ago to be part of the “Sounds for Sandy Hook” featuring bands in two locations, who, through its combined effort managed to raise over $10,000 for the Newtown Community Fund and are still receiving checks.
The show at Marisa’s began at 4:00 pm with food, drinks, DJ, and featured music from Karmic Justice, The Fake Foo Fighters, Open Mic Rocks featuring Jason Bimmler, father of a Sandy Hook Elementary School 2nd grader, Badboy, Category 5, Streets, That 80’s band, and others.
The all ages show at Illusions began at 2:30 pm with food, drinks, DJ and features music from Stephen Gonza, Brother Earl, Sick Sinse Sunday, Good Head, The Total Hacks, Bad Rooster, The Patrones, Turbulence, and High Octane.
Accoring to Patrone, the brainchild of that event was actually CJ Jacheo of Category 5 who put out the call to all local bands to donate their time. Within an hour the schedule was full, so Peter suggested the two separate locations, where each band would get to play, invite their fans and combine funds.
“The event’s turnout showed me that although we all have our differences and beliefs with how things should be,” Peter says “when it comes down to it we ALL pull together when tragedy strikes. I just think it sucks that it takes something so horribly tragic to bring communities together.”
I didn’t get to talk to every musician who wanted to give back in some way to the cause, but I caught up with several of them, some from out of state.
Jose Archuleta of Portales, New Mexico was one of the first to write, record and post a song on you tube following the tragedy. On healing music, he says: “It’s the best way I can express what plain words can’t explain.”
His song, now called “I’d Give Everything” has seen over 90,000 views and 100 per cent of the proceeds are going to Newtown. Jose said he is seeing 15-20 downloads a day for the song.
When The Voice posted its version of Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluiah,” Pete DeFazio, bassist of Avenue Groove shared the link on his page with his own words, “Music cannot heal all the wrong in this world, but it certainly can bring comfort in these trying times… I have never been more proud to be a musician. Way to go, The Voice.”
Jim Briggs, drummer in Sick Sinse Sunday, also a proud 50 year cancer survivor, says “Music has a tendency to take my mind off problems and go to a different place.”
Tom Guerra of Mambo Sons, has written music out of personal tragedy before, but the depth of the Sandy Hook tragedy caused him to go for a walk about a week after the incident, contemplating the level of loss the families in Newtown suffered. Here’s what he says about his creation of his song and video:
‘Love Comes to Us All’ wrote itself, it wasn’t pre-meditated from any one angle. It’s a message of love for Newtown. The verses came to me as I was waking on the morning of December 22nd, and by about 2:00 pm that day, I had recorded the whole thing and was starting to work on the video. Because of the gravity of the tragedy, I was cognizant of the fact that any video had to be done in a most respectful way, and could in no way be about me.”
“Music can lift us up, and I wanted those personally affected to know that while we don’t really know what they are going through, we are here to offer love and support. Without getting into names, I can tell you that people who were directly impacted have gotten in touch with me, saying that it touched them.”
Here’s Tom’s video and song “Love Comes to Us All”
The events that happened in Sandy Hook Elementary the morning of December 14 prove to us all that life is fragile, precious and sometimes tragic. Maybe music is one way to make it a little more bearable.
Near the end of the “Sounds for Sandy Hook” benefit last Sunday, Lee-Ann Lovelace of Bad Rooster thanked everyone there:
“Cheers to all of you and to a better year than we’ve had these past awful months. Here’s to peace in the world. I hope the victim’s families find it and we all find a way to make sense of the senseless, and find peace in the chaos. Peace to you. Happy New year, and thank you.”
Music is better when it’s something we can all share in. Jennifer Hill of Jennifer Hill & Co. had that in mind when she decided to write the song “We All Need a Moment of Silence (Hug Your Children Tight)” and put out an immediate facebook post to all who wanted to be involved to contact her to add vocals, children’s vocals or be part of the musical composition. Jennifer received so many calls and messages of people wanting to help that she had to design a plan to rehearse, record and get the song completed hopefully within the month.
Proof that when we all come together, we can heal together.
Check back here on Local band Review. I’m sure there will be more musical benefits over the next few months.