Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Frontman Wants YOU to Have a Say in How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent

Alex Ebert

By Hilary Gridley

Many Americans spend tax day wondering whether they’ll get a welcome payday or an unexpected bill from the government; fewer take the time to think about where each dollar will end up. Will our taxes fund national defense, health care, or agriculture? Will the nation’s leaders fund responses to natural disasters, alternative energy exploration or something else entirely?

The answers to these questions rely on the political process and those who control it. Until now, nobody has gathered the data to find out how Americans want their money spent. That’s changing this year thanks to an unlikely activist: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros frontman Alex Ebert.

Ebert has teamed up with developers from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s “Hackdance” hackathon to launch TheNewIRS.com, which provides users with interactive, visually arresting infographics that compare how users would actually want to have their tax dollars allocated versus how they will actually be used by the Federal government. Users can share their preferences with political leaders based on their location and demographics.

According to Ebert, “The idea is simple. Taxpayers choose, from reasonable and established categories, where our federal income tax money goes by choosing a percentage for each category.”

The renowned singer and Golden Globe-winning film composer explains that this process will help gather valuable information that politicians will hopefully be able to use to better represent the desires of their constituents. “We will be able to collect national data that will serve to illuminate any disparities between the will of the people and the national expenditures of our representative democracy,” Ebert says.

The idea was born out of frustration with a process in which politicians, for a variety of reasons, have historically failed to fulfill many of the promises they make while running for office.

Visit TheNewIRS.com to tell your representatives how you want your tax money spent. Ebert and his team will share public results after Tax Day.

Light Up the Blues Concert for Autism Awareness Features Crosby, Stills & Nash, John Mayer, Brandi Carlile

John Mayer

By Sarah Weiss

April is Autism Awareness Month, and to focus public attention on advocacy efforts the second annual Light Up the Blues Concert will return to Los Angeles on April 5 to benefit Autism Speaks, an organization that funds research into the causes, treatments and prevention of autism.

The concert is set to be held at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and will feature an impressive lineup including Crosby Stills & Nash, John Mayer, Don Felder, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stills, and many others.

At the heart of the event is “Light It Up Blue,”  Autism Speaks’ fundraising campaign that goes toward advancing research and backing efforts for those impacted by the disorder.

“We are so thrilled to be doing this again,” said event co-hosts Stephen and Kristen Stills. “Last year’s Light Up The Blues benefit was such an incredible event, life changing for all involved. We are so grateful to be able to bring such a special night of music to the Autism community and to support Autism Speaks.”

Also performing are special guests—rapper Watsky, indie artist Xolie Morra, Rio “Soulschocka” Wyles, Adam Mandela Walden and Neal Katz.

Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has donated more than $195 million to developing autism resources for families. On the global scale, Autism Speaks has mobilized more than 40 countries across five continents to nurture international research and awareness.

“We value our partnership with the Stills family on this amazing event that not only has great music, but also highlights the incredible talents of individuals on the spectrum, and lets them shine bright for a wonderful evening, ” said Matt Asner, Executive Director of Southern California for Autism Speaks.

The Light Up the Blues concert is sold out, but to get involved or donate to Autism Speaks, click here.

Orange Amps, Music for Good and Under the Radar Team Up at SXSW to Support Little Kids Rock

Guitarist Monte Pittman & Nate Anderson of Little Kids Rock

By Laura Ferreiro

Orange Amplifiers, Music for Good and Under the Radar Magazine teamed up for three days of events during the South by Southwest music festival March 12-14 benefiting music education charity Little Kids Rock.

The events at Austin’s Flamingo Cantina featured an array of incredible performances by artists including Charli XCX, EMA, Future Islands, The Mary Onettes, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon, Connan Mockasin and more.

During the parties, festival-goers had the chance to demo a new line of Orange Crush Pro Amps and participated in the Orange Gives campaign. Each time someone used the hashtag #OrangeGives on Twitter or Instagram and posted a photo of Orange gear on stage, Orange donated $1 to Little Kids Rock.

Charli XCX turns on the charm. PHOTO: Laura Ferreiro

Thousands of people used the #OrangeGives hashtag, which resulted in a generous donation from Orange Amps to Little Kids Rock to support the non profit’s work providing free music education and instruments to kids in underserved areas across the U.S.

Renowned guitarist Monte Pittman, known for his work with Madonna, also came by to lend a hand and told the crowd about how he supports the work of Little Kids Rock. Check out some of the highlights below.

Future Islands bust out some dance moves. PHOTO: Wendy Redfern

Little kids do indeed rock. PHOTO: Wendy Redfern

Nate Anderson of Little Kids Rock addresses the crowd. PHOTO: Wendy Redfern

Gruff Rhys debuts his solo material PHOTO: Laura Ferreiro

Scottish rockers Casual Sex strut their stuff. PHOTO: Laura Ferreiro

Capacity crowds fill up Flamingo Cantina. PHOTO: Wendy Redfern

‘Dio Was the Pavarotti of Heavy Metal Vocals’ Says Jack Black, Who’s Featured on Dio Tribute Album

Tenacious D

By Hilary Gridley

On April 1, Rhino Records will release Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life, a compilation album featuring songs by heavy metal superstar Ronnie James Dio covered by his famous friends and admirers.

The compilation will benefit the Dio Cancer Fund, which was founded by Dio’s wife, Wendy, and Sandeep Kapoor, M.D after the famed rocker lost his battle with stomach cancer three years ago.

Through the charity, Dio’s fans came together to ensure his memory would continue to have a positive impact on the world by donating thousands of dollars to cancer research in his name.

Artists on the compilation include Metallica, Scorpions, Anthrax, Halestorm and Tenacious D, who perform Dio’s famed tracks including “The Temple of the King,” “Neon Knights,” “Straight Through The Heart” and “The Last In Line.”

“Dio was the master,” Jack Black of Tenacious D tells Music for Good. “He was the Pavarotti of heavy metal vocalists. [He had] soaring melodies and a lion’s roar to match. He was also one of the coolest guys I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. No one could touch his brilliance…on or off the stage.”

“It’s hard not to pick a great Dio track…but this one appealed to us,” says Kyle Gass of “The Last In Line,” the track that he and Black chose for Tenacious D to record. “Recording the track was a blast. Our electric guitarist, John Konesky, shredded a solo. I said, ‘That’s pretty good, but let’s try out my recorder.’ Lo and behold it shredded even more and added a unique element to the track.”

Gass added that Dio had a tremendous impact on his band, and that the cameo the legendary rocker made in Tenacious D’s musical comedy film The Pick of Destiny was a dream come true for the band. “Dio obviously has been a major influence and inspiration for the D,” Gass says. “His performance in The Pick of Destiny was a magical moment for us, and we’ll always miss him. Rock on, Dio.”

The Dio Cancer Fund held the first listening party for the album on March 14 at the South by Southwest music festival. The event, which took place at the Bayou in Austin, featured a Dio trivia game in which attendees could win prizes while they listened to the tribute album for the first time. Fans reportedly had tears in their eyes after “This Is Your Life,” the closing track.

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SXSW Panel: Are Brands the New Music Tastemakers?

By Laura Ferreiro

While most of Austin was still asleep or nursing their hangovers, a few dozen of us gathered in the Austin Convention Center on the last day of the South by Southwest music festival to discuss how brands and musical artists can effectively work together to create mutually beneficial campaigns, and the role brands can play in being musical trailblazers.

In a panel titled “Are Brands the New Music Tastemakers?,” representatives from major consumer brands including Kerry Doyle of Ford Motor Company, Brenden Miller of Under Armour, and Raul Ruiz of Corona, explained the value that their brands see in partnering with musicians, including those from several genres that run the gamut from hugely popular to up-and-coming.

“I like to work with bands that are just bubbling up,” said Miller about his work with sports apparel brand Under Armour. A former artist manager, Miller is relatively new to his role with the company, which involves strategically integrating music into the brand’s advertising and marketing campaigns.

Meanwhile, Ford has worked with everyone from country superstar Toby Keith to burgeoning indie bands including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and The Lumineers, and proudly pointed to the success of its “Rider Challenge” series.

The web series aired on Live Nation’s website and featured teams driving around different cities in Ford Fiestas to fill the bands’ tour rider requests, which ranged from blue M&M’s to Turkish towels. The winning team drove home two Ford Fiestas, and received unlimited passes to attend Live Nation concerts for a year.

Doyle said that the campaign was a great way to attract the attention of Millennials, and received a huge amount of media coverage in outlets ranging from Variety to Billboard. “It got a lot of great PR,” she said of the series, which aired during the fourth quarter of 2013. “The brands pushed it and so did the bands,” she added, pointing out that Ford has such a big reach that the artists get great exposure from these partnerships as well as the brand.

Doyle also said that Ford recently teamed up with indie record label IAMSOUND and Pitchfork TV to present a series of invitation-only concerts in Los Angeles with up-and-coming artists on IAMSOUND’s label, including Guards and MS MR. “It needs to be something more than pasting your logo all over the place,” she said of the partnerships. “Brands need to move at the speed of culture or ahead of it.”

Meanwhile, Corona teamed up with the hugely popular Latin rock band Mana to tap into the Latin market. The beer purveyors launched “Mana Como Nunca” (Mana Like Never Before), which featured rising Latin artists “refreshing” classic Mana songs and putting their own spin on the band’s hits. Corona customers received exclusive, free access to the tracks online and were entered into a sweepstakes for a VIP concert experience with Mana in Las Vegas.

While each brand has its own distinctive ways of reaching customers through music, there’s one thing they all agreed upon – each of the brands uses music to connect to people’s emotions. The one thing that’s undeniable, Miller said, is that “music connects with everyone.”

SXSW Establishes Fund to Aid Victims of Fatal Music Festival Crash

The South by Southwest Festival, with the support of the Austin Police Department, and City of Austin officials, has vowed to continue with the regularly scheduled SXSW programs and concerts following a drunken driving incident on March 13, 2014 that killed two festival goers and injured 23 others.

“If we were to turn away potentially thousands of people who will arrive to see the shows, it would create a serious safety issue,” said SXSW founder Roland Swenson.

In response to the tragic incident, a SXSW Cares Fund has been established to assist the people affected by the accident through a community-based process created by representatives of SXSW, the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Austin Community Foundation.

“We have spent today working with SXSW and the City to create a relief fund for the victims,” said James Moody, the owner of Mohawk, the venue where the accident took place. “This is our number one priority — their care and support. We are a community here that exists far beyond the 10 days of SXSW. Our intent is to come together to help the families of each and every one of the victims.”

Those in need of grief counseling can contact the American Red Cross at 800-928-4271 ext 1132.

Anyone interested in donating to the victims and their families should visit sxswcares.com.

Broken Bells Team Up with Space Foundation to Save the Earth from Asteroids

Broken Bells

By Sarah Weiss

Renowned indie rockers Broken Bells have announced that they are partnering with the B612 Foundation starting with their April West Coast tour. For the duration of their tour, $1 from every concert ticket sold will be donated to help fund B612’s Sentinel Mission of protecting the Earth from impending asteroids and to map future space explorations.

The B612 Foundation is in the process of creating the first comprehensive map of the inner solar system that will warn of potential asteroid-earth collisions, and clear the way for future space exploration.

Broken Bells, which is a collaboration between The Shins’ James Mercer and renowned producer Danger Mouse, a.k.a Brian Burton — who is currently working with U2 on their upcoming studio album — are set to perform at the two Coachella Festival weekends in April. In between the two weekends, they’re set to play at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on April 15.

After the Fonda Theatre concert, Broken Bells and the B612 Foundation will host a star-gazing after party on the rooftop of the venue. Danger Mouse and Mercer will be in attendance, as well as Dr. Marc Buie, the mission specialist on the B612 project, Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut and co-founder of the B612 Foundation.

Buie and Schweickart will also give a presentation highlighting the Sentinel Project and the current dangers surrounding asteroids. After party guests can enjoy a complementary space-themed drink while gazing into the sky with telescopes manned by astronomers at JPL. To purchase tickets for the after party, click here.

In the meantime, check out Broken Bells’ outerspace-themed video starring actress Kate Mara below:

Lady Gaga to Donate Proceeds from Her Debut SXSW Performance to the Born This Way Foundation

By Laura Ferreiro

Lady Gaga has announced that she will make her South by Southwest debut on March 13. The pop star is set to headline a Doritos-sponsored event at Stubb’s barbeque, and she intends to donate the proceeds she’ll be paid for the performance to the Born This Way Foundation, her non-profit organization that combats bullying and works toward creating a “kinder, braver world.”

In keeping with the Foundation’s mission of encouraging bravery, Gaga announced a competition whereby people who “share a picture or video that expresses their individuality through a bold action,” using the hashtags #BoldBravery and #BoldStage and uploading it to Twitter, Instagram or Vine, will have the chance to win tickets to the show at the renowned Austin music festival.

“There are personal brave moments when you face one person, and brave moments that help change the world, when you face many,” Lady Gaga told Rolling Stone. “Whether I’m fighting for equal rights with Born This Way or fighting for creativity and art with ARTPOP, I’m always aware of the many I will face in opposition. With ARTPOP, I hope to inspire the audience at SXSW to cherish their individual talents.”

The “Applause” singer added that performing at Stubb’s will be a real “blast from the past” because she used to play at the renowned Texas barbeque joint “with a Bud Light and a bikini” before she became famous.

Charli XCX, EMA, Future Islands, Gruff Rhys, The Mary Onettes and More to Headline Orange-Sponsored SXSW Day Parties Benefiting Little Kids Rock

Charli XCX

By Laura Ferreiro 

Charli XCX, EMA, Future Islands, The Mary Onettes, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon, Connan Mockasin and Lost in the Trees are among the bands that will headline the Orange Amplification-sponsored Under the Radar day parties at SXSW benefiting music education charity Little Kids Rock.

The parties will take place March 12-14 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Flamingo Cantina, 515 E. 6th Street, Austin, and are free and open to the public.

Every time someone uses the hashtag #OrangeGives on Twitter or Instagram at the SXSW parties or from the comfort of their own home, Orange will donate $1 to Little Kids Rock. You don’t need to be at SXSW to participate, but bonus points if you post a photo or video of a band getting loud with Orange gear along with the hashtag #OrangeGives.

The #OrangeGives campaign will kick off Wednesday, March 12 at 11am CST and ends Sunday, March 16 at 11:59pm CST.

SXSW party set times:

Wednesday, March 12

5:00 PM: EMA
4:05 PM: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
3:15 PM: Casual Sex
2:25 PM: Future Islands
1:35 PM: Connan Mockasin
12:45 PM: Lost in the Trees
12:00 PM: Saintseneca

Thursday, March 13

5:00 PM: We Were Promised Jetpacks
4:05 PM: The Mary Onettes
3:15 PM: Small Black
2:25 PM: Avi Buffalo
1:35 PM: Thumpers
12:45 PM: Painted Palms
12:00 PM: GEMS

Friday, March 14

5:05 PM: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan
4:10 PM: Arthur Beatrice
3:20 PM: Weekend
2:25 PM: Charli XCX
1:35 PM: Gruff Rhys
12:45 PM: Woman’s Hour
12:00 PM: Glass Animals

SXSW-goers will also have the opportunity to demo Orange gear at the Orange-sponsored Under the Radar day parties, so come on by if you’ll be in Austin!

M4G Media – the consulting arm of Music for Good – worked with Orange to create a campaign that would enable the historic brand to help one of their favorite causes while also giving people the chance to experience Orange’s distinctive amps.

Whether or not you make it to SXSW, use the #OrangeGives hashtag on Twitter and Instagram from March 12-16 and Orange Amps will donate $1 to Little Kids Rock!

Orange Amplification Gets Loud at SXSW to Support Music Education in Schools

By Laura Ferreiro

Renowned guitar amplifier manufacturer Orange Amplification is turning up the volume on free music education in schools to help offset nationwide budget cuts that are eliminating music programs in low-income communities across the U.S.

To help rectify this problem, the distinctive British amplifier brand has teamed up with national nonprofit Little Kids Rock and M4G Media to create the Orange Gives Campaign. Orange will donate $1 to Little Kids Rock every time someone posts to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #OrangeGives from March 12-16, 2014.

What’s more, anyone who includes the #OrangeGives hashtag along with a photo or video showing Orange gear – whether on stage at SXSW, in their home studio or with bands rocking out at a local club – will be entered into a drawing to win a premium Orange OR15 Amp Head.

In addition to the #OrangeGives campaign, Orange will give SXSW-goers the opportunity to demo gear at the Orange-sponsored Under the Radar day parties, March 12-14 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Flamingo Cantina, 515 E. 6th Street, Austin. The parties are free and open to the public—no RSVPs or badges required.

Little Kids Rock is a national nonprofit that transforms children’s lives by restoring and revitalizing music education in under-served public schools. The organization partners with school districts to train public school teachers in their innovative curriculum while donating all of the instruments and resources necessary to run rockin’ music programs.

“The future of music is Little Kids Rock,” says Alex Auxier, Artist Relations Manager for Orange Amplifiers. “Across the country music programs are losing financial support. Every lost dollar could mean another child never learns to play an instrument – a skill that can be vital to their well being. Orange Amps supports Little Kids Rock because we believe it is our obligation. Tag #OrangeGives and let’s create another generation of talented musicians together!”

Little Kids Rock counts several notable musicians among its supporters, including Metallica’s James Hetfield, Steven Van Zandt, Elvis Costello, Josh Groban, Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt.

“Little Kids Rock is thrilled to be partnering with Orange Amplifiers,” says Little Kids Rock Founder and Executive Director, David Wish. “Their support will help us turn up the volume in public schools across the country by bringing our free, rockin’ music education program into their kids’ lives!”

M4G Media – the consulting arm of Music for Good – worked with Orange to create a campaign that would enable the historic brand to help one of their favorite causes while also giving people the chance to experience Orange’s distinctive amps.

Whether or not you make it to SXSW, be sure to use the #OrangeGives hashtag on Twitter and Instagram from March 12-16 and Orange Amps will donate $1 to Little Kids Rock!