Monday, February 23, 2015

Homes For Our Troops (02.22.15)

Not long ago, I wrote and posted a "Why bother playing live music in Second Life?" article. Actually, it was just one of my regular show reports, but it had been a fun show filled with friends, and I postulated that the primary reason for doing SL performances was just that: fun. Fun for yourself, fun for the audience, and giving you a possibility of connecting with people in a way that isn't otherwise possible.

Those things are all true, but I neglected to mention something very important: charity. You see, the platform of Second Life, with its ability to gather people regardless of physical location and engage them in a charitable act, is something that's another unique aspect of virtual music shows. Those of you who have been a friend/fan of mine for a long time period know that doing charitable benefit shows is important to me. After all, I'm never going to be some world-renowned rock star (nor would I want to). How can I then use my musical skills and talent to bring some goodness to the world, other than the momentary fun of the show itself? The answer is by doing fundraising shows for worthwhile causes, and I've done dozens and dozens of them over the eight-plus years I've been performing in SL. I'm proud to say my shows have benefited such organizations as the American Cancer Society, the National Kidney Foundation, the Autism Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research, and many others.

Sunday's show for Homes For Our Troops certainly qualifies as a worthwhile cause. My friend and fellow musician Frets Nirvana has been the point man for organizing shows that benefit veterans organizations in SL, and I've done previous shows for him in this regard. Before I talk about Homes For Our Troops and the show itself, I would like to mention something that I brought up during the show itself.

Anti-War Guy Supports Military: Why?
I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that I have a liberal political outlook. More specifically, I'm about as anti-war as anyone. While I'm not so deluded or naive as to not understand why war continues to be part of the human experience, looking at the bigger picture, it strikes me as incredibly barbaric that in 2015, we're still going around shooting and bombing fellow human beings for various reasons. I oppose violence in all forms. If it were up to me, every single military conflict that continues in the world today would end right this second. But it's not up to me, and it's a seemingly impossible idea, at least for now. That means we have to deal with the inevitable outcomes of war, which are never positive on the human level. For anyone who thinks that doing a benefit show that helps injured veterans is some kind of right-wing cause, allow me to retort: someone has to be there to clean up the mess that war mongers make. If the government lived up to its responsibility of taking care of the combat veterans who protect the country, there would be no need for silly musicians like me to have to participate in fundraisers for them. While I'm loathe to make this a liberal-versus-conservative cause (because it affects all equally), it's rarely the left wing who denies aid to veterans whose lives are forever impacted by the horrors of war. So, as far as I'm concerned, "supporting the troops" is as liberal as it gets. But for any hardcore conservative who ever put a "support the troops" bumper sticker on their truck, they should be equally interested in this cause, no matter who they vote for or whether their state is colored red or blue on a map. Enough said.

All photos by Kat

What Is "Homes For Our Troops"?
My previous shows that have helped veterans organizations have been to the benefit of more well-known charities like the Wounded Warriors Project. But sometimes, it's important to look deeply into the pathway of the monies raised by a charity. Frets Nirvana discovered that the mission of the Homes For Our Troops organization was more in line with his opinions on how veterans can best be served, and also found that a greater percentage of the funds raised goes directly to those in need. Here's their mission statement:

Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) is a privately funded 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization building specially adapted, mortgage-free homes nationwide for the most severely injured Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of these Veterans have sustained injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). These homes restore some of the freedom and independence our Veterans sacrificed while defending our country, and enable them to focus on their family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives. Since its inception in 2004, over 90 percent of donations to Homes for Our Troops has gone to directly support Veterans. HFOT builds these homes where the Veteran chooses to live, and continues its relationship with the Veterans after home delivery to assist them with rebuilding their lives.

So this all sounded good to me, and I was happy to jump in and lend a hand. The show was held at the Second Life US Military Veterans Center, and while I was happy to do it for all the reasons described above, I knew well before the show started that we shouldn't expect a big crowd. Why? Well, there was this little event going on at the same time called "The Oscars". Hey, things happen. But two things surprised me: we did get about 15-20 people to come out during my portion of the event, and (much more importantly), those people were generous beyond belief. We raised about L$45,000 during my one-hour set, which is somewhere around $200 USD. Look, that's not going to buy an injured vet a home. But it's more than a drop in the bucket, and I have to say how proud I am of my friends and fans who contributed so generously to this great cause. I should note that this was only for my portion of the show; my fellow musicians Jimmyt49 Dukes, Noma Falta, and Frets Nirvana did sets after me that undoubtedly added a lot to the amount raised in total.

Homes For Our Troops set list...
Pigs on the Wing -- Parts I & II (Pink Floyd)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
I've Been Waiting for You (Neil Young)
*Congregation (Foo Fighters)
It's Choade My Dear (Connan Mockasin)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Say Goodbye (Beck)
Pancho & Lefty (Townes Van Zandt)
Allentown (Billy Joel)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)
Blew The Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)

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

Massive thanks to everyone who came out to the show and helped buy a home for a deserving military vet. I thank you, and I thank you on their behalf!

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