Monday, June 30, 2014

Wounded Warrior Benefit (06.29.14)

Last night, after I'd done my show at the US Military Veterans Center in Second Life, I was standing on my front porch with Kat, enjoying the coolness of the evening air. I mentioned, "You know, I've actually done quite a lot of different charitable shows over the years in SL," and she agreed. We began to count the different organizations for whom I've performed to raise funds and/or awareness.

• Relay for Life (American Cancer Society)
• National Kidney Foundation
• Animal rescue organizations
• Autism Society
• Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
• National Down Syndrome Society
• Live & Learn in Kenya

And now, I've done a show to aid injured military veterans. Shortly after making this list, a glowing halo spontaneously appeared over my head, and we emailed the Vatican to officially apply for sainthood.

All kidding aside, I'd like to note that one of the best things that musicians can do is to use their talents toward making the world a better place. It's fantastic making the art of music purely for the sake of the art itself, but if you have the opportunity to do what you love doing, and help people in the process, it's about as good as it gets. I'll never meet the military veterans who might be helped by the show we did yesterday, but there's a sense of having done something for the greater good of humanity that is inspirational for me. Purely on a selfish basis, doing that kind of thing puts a smile on my face. I honestly hope it helps someone in need, even if it's just to a small degree.

Another note about charitable shows. I don't accept every request that comes in for me to play at a fundraising event. I do my share of research, confirming that the organization for whom I'm performing is a recognized non-profit. I also limit my performances to causes in which I personally believe and support. In the case of the Wounded Warrior Project, I already have interaction with them based on support that my business clients have given. Still, that didn't stop me from reading up and learning some facts. One in particular stood out, and made me understand why we have such a large number of military vets who need care.

With advancements in battlefield medicine and body armor, an unprecedented percentage of service members are surviving severe wounds or injuries. For every US soldier killed in World Wars I and II, there were 1.7 soldiers wounded. In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, for every US soldier killed, seven are wounded. - Wounded Warrior Project Site

That makes a lot of sense. Previously, so many soldiers died on the battlefield that we didn't have the ongoing issue of helping them heal. In any case, since so many of my friends know that I am about as anti-war as a person can be, they may be wondering why this is a charity I choose to support. It's very, very simple. In my view, any government who sends young men and women into combat is responsible for anything that happens to them as a result. Today, governments are running into a dose of harsh reality: they don't have (or aren't willing to use) the resources to ensure the potential life-long care of the increasing number of injured military personnel. Many of these people simply aren't getting the care they need, and should get help from somewhere (since the entity that caused them injury in the first place doesn't always come through). Perhaps in the big picture, this situation, as sad and wrong as it is, is another aspect that is a deterrent to war in general. It's too damn costly to take of the survivors.

I couldn't have asked for a cooler, more generous crowd at the Wounded Warrior benefit. Photo and top photo by Kat.

It was a great Sunday evening for some mellow tunes and successful fundraising. Photo by Kat.

I tend to go with the theory that benefit shows can be fun as well as focused on the goals of fundraising. Photo by Kat.

I look quite happy after wrapping up my show (and listening to the great music Voodoo Shilton who followed me). Photo by Kat.

Enough soapbox speaking. Onto the show! I had been approached by Frets Nirvana, another longtime SL musician, to play at his recurring event that happens on the last Sunday of each month. It took a couple of months to align the schedules so I could participate, but I'm very happy I agreed to do it. These events include multiple artists over the course of an evening, and I opened it up at the 5PM hour. We had a really good-sized crowd, and more importantly, we had a very generous crowd. Over the course of my 60-minute show, we raised over L$50,000, which is more than $200 USD, and the event donations totaled at more than L$120,000. Really, that's spectacular. I'm proud to have been a part of this event, which also included other great musicians like Voodoo Shilton, Noma Falta, and Frets himself. I kept my set themed in a mellow mood that seemed appropriate for the occasion.

Wounded Warrior set list...
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
*Wakin On A Pretty Day (Kurt Vile)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Mexico (James Taylor)
Perfectly Calm (They Stole My Crayon)
Daniel (Elton John)
Swing Lo Magellan (Dirty Projectors)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Huge thanks to all who came to my show and supported this excellent cause. You rock!

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