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Raising Awareness Through Music

Bands and musicians supporting Haiti in crisis

To make sure you didn’t miss out on it, this past Thursday I let you know of a few ways that caring souls in the music community were pitching in to help raise awareness and garner donations for the victims of the recent 7.0 earthquake that occurred just outside of Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti.

Bands and artists are finding unique ways to urge people to chip in to the relief effort. Music for Relief, a non-profit organization founded by the members of Linkin Park that has raised $3 million dollars since its founding, is currently offering a compilation album for free on its website, urging you to donate after the download. The album features unreleased music by artists such as Peter Gabriel, Alanis Morisette, Linkin Park, The Dave Matthews Band and more. You can check out the full track listing and get more information about Music for Relief on their website by clicking here.

Download “Typical Situation (Live)” by The Dave Matthews Band off of Download to Donate for Haiti – courtesy of Music for Relief

Paste Magazine's Songs for haiti

Paste magazine has set up songsforhaiti.org, where hundreds of artists have donated tracks in an effort to entice more people to donate. The funds raised will be split three ways between Doctors Without BordersRed Cross, and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. Artists in the download archive include quite a handful of Peak regulars: Andrew Bird, Ben Folds, Bob Mould, Cowboy Junkies, Indigo Girls, Marc Broussard, Of Montreal, She & Him, The Avett Brothers, Dan Dyer, The Decemberists,  The Jayhawks, The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee and many many more.

Paste is aware that this may not be the best way to raise support. In their words:

We don’t think people should donate to the relief efforts in Haiti just to get a reward. But this gives Paste and artists a way to help, using the thing we’re most passionate about—music.

And seeing as they’ve already raised over $100,000 through Songs for Haiti, it has proven to be a smart idea.

Régine Chassange

In the realm of raising awareness, one artist has gone above and beyond normal measures in telling her personal story. Régine Chassange, of The Arcade Fire, wrote a heart-breaking piece for the Guardian the Sunday before last documenting her shock and disbelief as she saw and felt the events of the earthquake unfolded. Régine is one of the founding members of the Montreal band, where she sings vocals and mans the accordion (and the drums and xylophone and piano from time to time). Although she is a citizen in both Canada and the U.S., her family emigrated from Haiti before she was born, and therefore news of the earthquake affected her in ways that those who don’t have relatives there will not be able to understand.

She writes,

I ran downstairs and turned on the television. It was true. Tears came rushing right to my eyes and I let out a cry, as if I had just heard that everybody I love had died. The reality, unfortunately, is much worse. Although everything around me is peaceful, I have been in an internal state of emergency for days. My house is quiet, but I forget to eat (food is tasteless). I forget to sleep. I’m on the phone, on email, non-stop. I’m nearly not moving, but my pulse is still fast. I forget who I talked to and who I told what. I leave the house without my bag, my keys. I cannot rest.

Partners in Health

In her article, she beckons her readers to donate to Partners in Health, saying that PIH is the best relief organization “in terms of thorough medical care, follow-up and combining of parallel necessary services (education, sanitation, training, water, agriculture)”. You can read the full article here.

But for every shining instance of goodwill, there are plenty who pass up opportunities to pitch in. If none of the above relief efforts moved you, here is a list of ways to help support those in need, including a breakdown how each organization uses its resources.

Thank you for doing your part to help those who, at this point in time, can’t help themselves. To quote Régine again we, as humans, are “[i]mpossibly weak, but standing”. And as we look to the horizon in this dark night and broaden our awareness of those in need, we can see the sun begin to spill outward and upward. My thoughts are with Haiti.

~Josh

[PS: If there is a relief organization or effort that you would like to bring to this blog’s attention, please feel free to talk about it in a comment below – thanks!]

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PEAK KEYWORD: HAITI

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Concert Watch January 2010*

*Thanks to my readers for informing me that it is no longer 2009.

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So in my zeal to try out posting some decades-old Spirit for your entertainment pleasure, I completely neglected a close-up look at some of the concerts that are coming through New York’s backyard this month.

The Little Feat lineup in 2009

This Tuesday, you can catch Little Feat at The Concert Hall in NYC, on 64th Street just west of Central Park. They’re playing in despite of the fact that, as they announced in August, Richie Hayward, drummer and founding member of the band is battling cancer of the liver. The band has offered many ways to support Richie on their website. In the meantime, the best way to support the band is by hopping on that One train and seeing what’s always been a great live performance, provided by a living legend Bill Payne.

Ezra Kroenig

But if Little Feat doesn’t strike your fancy, how about a band that combines two of America’s favorite things: vampires and weekends. Vampire Weekend, the uber-trendy nerd  band from Colombia University (just a jaunt North on that very same One train), is doing three shows in three nights in NYC. They’re appearing first at Union Palace on Sunday the 17th, followed by Webster Hall on the 18th and Bowery Ballroom on the 19th. They’ve been around for three years now, featuring Ezra Kroenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio. The reason for the band’s heavy touring is upcoming release of their second album, Contra (2010). Expectations are high, but most eagerly awaiting fans were appeased by this nifty, frenetic and sometimes creepy video for the first single off the album, “Cousinz”:

Bonus! Click here to download a fun remix of “Cousinz” by Toy Selectah. And if you want to get a jumpstart on Contra (which comes out tomorrow), you can stream the whole thing on the band’s website.

Suzanne Vega

And the talented Suzanne Vega will be in her hometown of New York City on January 28th. Her most recent album, Beauty and Crime, was released in 2007. It featured “Frank and Ava” a subdued song that paints the tumultuous relationship between Frank Sinatra and his second wife, Ava Gardner. Just last year, she worked on an album (still unreleased for legal reasons) with musician and producer Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley) and the indie band Sparklehorse. If all of these funky names are making you anxious, here’s a throwback to the song that made Ms. Vega the “Mother of the Mp3“:

How calming is that? For more artists, concerts and concert information, check out the Peak’s Concert Calendar (put together by yours truly).

Next week: I examine a great find that’s coming straight from the Peak’s junk pile to your ears. Until then, happy listening!

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PEAK KEYWORD: COUSINZ

[If you’ve looked at the concert calendar, and you think there’s a band or singer more important than the three I’ve mentioned here – please let me know!]

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Concert Watch November 2009

…And the horseman roams the streets at night… restlessly searching for his missing head.

That of course, is from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow – one of my favorites, although no one knows how the ghostly Hessian soldier actually lost his head. I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say that maybe if he had known about all of the great concerts going on in November in his own backyard, he could have found some solace.

Segue!

I think he just saw the Horseman!

Pete Yorn

November starts off with a bang – Pete Yorn, who performed live for the peak in 2006 will be playing at the Ridgefield Playhouse TOMORROW the 1st. He just released his fourth record Back and Fourth this past June and if you look at the fine print, you’ll notice that Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes helped produce it. What’s more, Yorn put out another album right after that, with Scarlett Johannson this past September – Relator. And coming off touring with Coldplay throughout the summer Mr. Yorn is doing quite well for himself – make sure to catch him in Connecticut!

Too bad harmonicas aren't semi-automatic.

Popper visiting the troops

On November 4th, Blues Traveler is rolling through town. They’ll be playing a show at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza in the city. They’ve been going above and beyond recently in an effort to support the troops in any way they can. For instance they are offering a free download of “Forever Owed” – the first track of their 2008 record North Hollywood Shootout. This song was written for the troops, and they ask that in lieu of paying for the track you make a direct donation to the USO. Blues Traveler visited the troops in 2004, and in a letter to the men and women of the Armed Forces, John Popper writes,

“… you who serve are not only a part of us but the best of us. I will carry my meager taste of honor with me for the rest of my life.”

In addition to the free download, they have been giving away free tickets to their shows for servicemen and women through the USO. So support this noble band by seeing them next wednesday.

"Alone, we are just your average indie-folk superstars... but with our powers combined, we form: THE MONSTERS OF FOLK!" (theme music plays - some light guitar strumming)

The Monsters of Folk

Going back to Mike Mogis for a sec, the indie-folk supergroup, the Monsters of Folk, are playing at the United Palace Theater up in Washington Heights next friday, November 6th. These monsters include Mike Mogis and Connor Oberst, both prominent members of Bright Eyes; M. Ward – well known from his partnership with Zooey Deschanel called She & Him; and Jim James the singer from My Morning Jacket. I know, it’s a lot of names for one band. But it’s going to be a great performance. If you do miss them Friday, it wont be too late – they’re playing again at the Beacon Theater on Nov. 8th a week from this Sunday.

Is Nils Lofgren floating on the left?

Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 2003.

In the end, however, no one compares to the Boss. That’s right, Bruce Springsteen is blazing through town after his tour de force performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week. Brucie and the E Street Band will have two performances at Madison Square Garden on Saturday and Sunday, the 7th and the 8th.

Yes, we do have a Grammy award winner behind that window.

Rob Thomas Peak Performance at ACME studios on Sept. 5th, 2009.

That should tide you over for a few days, at least. We return then to the Beacon Theatre, where Rob Thomas will be performing a series of three shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the 12th, 13th, and 14th respectively.  You may know that Rob Thomas came into the studios this past September, and he’ll be one of the featured artists on the Peak Performances Vol. 2 that’s coming out this December.

And there’s so much more! The Cranberries will be playing at Nokia Theater on the 18th. After that, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones will be performing at the Community Theater at the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts on Friday the 20th, and the Smithereens will be following tham at the Community Theatre the on the 21st.

Also, Ani DiFranco will be playing at Town Hall on the 21st as well. New York’s backyard will also be graced with three shows from the Pixies on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Pianos suck.

Guster's "Lost and Gone Forever" 1999

 

Then November goes out with a bang, too, with two sold-out shows from Guster on the 27th and 28th back at the Beacon Theater. They’re touring right now for the tenth anniversary of their ’99 album Lost and Gone Forever. They’re playing two sets each with one set being the record in its entirety. That album has some truly great tracks like “Barrel of a Gun” and “Fa Fa”.

So happy concert-hunting, and if you do seem to have misplaced your head, then let some great world class rock steer you home.

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Peak Keyword: ICHABOD

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