Jack Antonoff, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lena Dunham & Friends Launch Music and Activism Series

Jack Antonoff and Lena Dunham perform at the Audible Impact concert at the Grammy Museum. Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

By Laura Ferreiro

Renowned musicians, Hollywood glitterati, comedians and Los Angeles high school students joined forces this weekend for the inaugural Audible Impact, a year-long series of events on music and activism. Led by Jack Antonoff of indie-pop bands Bleachers and Fun. and joined by actresses Lena Dunham and Alia Shawkat, comedian Sarah Silverman, singer/songwriters Carly Rae Jepsen, M. Ward and many others, this motley crew came together for an intimate benefit concert at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles that capped off an event-filled day.

The events, put on by The Ally Coalition – a non-profit co-founded by Antonoff and his sister Rachel Antonoff – as well as the Grammy Museum and partners including Pandora, Toyota and HBO, was all about raising awareness and promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.

The jam-packed day included a visit to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, where Antonoff spoke to the students and volunteers handed out hygiene packs. Afterwards, students attended a poignant panel discussion at the Grammy Museum moderated by Ronnie Cho, Vice President of Public Affairs for MTV, and featuring panelists Jack Antonoff, musician Jess Bowen, West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, LA Times music journalist Gerrick Kennedy, and Sage from the LA LGBT Center.

Audible Impact Panel (L-R) Sage, Jess Bowen, Jack Antonoff, Lindsey Horvath, Gerrick Kennedy & Ronnie Cho. Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

The panel covered topics including the media’s portrayal of gay and transgender communities, which many agreed is often skewed and extremely limited. “We’re more than just Caitlyn Jenner!” proclaimed a transgender teen in the audience. Panelists also emphasized that even though a recent Supreme Court ruling legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, much more remains to be done.

“I was very open that I wouldn’t get married until everyone can get married,” Antonoff told the crowd, joking about how his girlfriend sent him a text asking when they were getting married as soon as the ruling came down.

“It was a major victory, but what’s next?” Sage asked. “This is just the first step. You can still be fired for putting a picture of your [same-sex] partner on your desk.”

Antonoff pointed out that a whopping 40 percent of homeless teens are LGBT, largely because many youth are kicked out of their parents’ homes after coming out. Antonoff’s Ally Coalition works with other organizations to help promote tolerance and understanding so that these numbers decrease, and provides valuable support for these youth.

Carly Rae Jepsen. Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

Students asked panel members how they can get involved and make a difference; they also shared moving stories of their own experiences and some of the challenges of being gay or transgender. Mayor Horvath offered some tangible ideas and encouraged youth to contact her office at council@weho.org to learn more about how they can help.

While Antonoff is not gay – in fact his relationship with Girls star and creator Dunham has been extensively documented by the media – he is quick to point out that this is a human rights issue that affects everyone. “This is everyone’s issue,” he told Pride Source. “We are not all free unless we are all free. Just because I was born into the elite class of straight Americans who have maximum rights does not mean that I won’t fight as if it were me being denied human rights.”

Sarah Silverman performs at Audible Impact benefit. Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com

The day culminated with a benefit concert at the Grammy Museum’s Clive Davis Theater, where the audience was treated to bold comedy routines by Dunham and Silverman, soulful stylings by M. Ward and some new material by Jepsen. Antonoff took the stage with his Bleachers cohorts, performing stripped-down versions of their own tunes as well as a gorgeous cover of The National’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” which turned into an audience sing-along.

“We work with great homeless shelters and they always need more space,” Antonoff said before leaving the stage. “Your [ticket] money literally goes toward more beds at these shelters.”

For more information or to get involved, visit The Ally Coalition website.

The National to Play Intimate Benefit Show Supporting Education for Guatemalan Girls

By James Pleasant

The National, who often sing songs about people’s dark sides, are shedding some light on social issues by donating the proceeds of their October 16 show at Los Angeles’ Troubadour nightclub to the nonprofit Cooperative for Education (CoEd), which aims to advance the education of girls in Guatemala.

The intimate show is bound to be a treat for the band’s fans, as they often play much larger, arena-sized venues. It will support the Thousand Girls Initiative, which was launched by The National lead singer Matt Berninger and his two cousins Joe and Jeff, who co-founded the Ohio-based non-profit, Cooperative for Education (CoEd).

“Almost 20 years ago my cousins Joe and Jeff Berninger quit their corporate jobs and started this non-profit,” said Matt Berninger. “CoEd has already reached more than 150,000 kids with textbooks and computers, and now they’re taking on girls’ education. I’m excited to join the effort to keep 1,000 girls from dropping out of school, which is so common in Guatemala.”

The organization hopes to reduce education-based gender inequality in Guatemala by enrolling 1,000 girls in CoEd’s Scholarship & Youth Development program by 2020. According to Co-Ed, 95% of students who finish middle school with their scholarship graduate from high school.

CoEd, founded in 1996, has made it its mission to help Guatemalan children break the cycle of poverty through education. The organization implements sustainable textbook, computer, reading and scholarship programs in Guatemala’s schools to help address the root cause of poverty in Guatemala—lack of education.

The Latin American country only has an 18% high school graduation rate, resulting in extreme poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality. CoEd aims to support and educate these marginalized populations so they can achieve success.

To learn more about Cooperative for Education or to support its programs, click here. Tickets for the National’s Troubadour benefit show can be purchased here.

Run the Jewels, Primus, Ingrid Michaelson and More Release Pink Vinyl To Support Breast Cancer Awareness

Run the Jewels

By Anna DiBlosi

For its second annual Ten Bands One Cause, RED Distribution is re-releasing 10 bands’ iconic albums on pink vinyl this September to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness month and to raise proceeds for cancer education and family support charity Gilda’s Club New York City (GCNYC).

This year’s limited-edition pink vinyl includes albums by Run The Jewels, Sturgill Simpson, Ingrid Michaelson, Joey Bada$$, Between the Buried and Me, Chet Faker, Clutch, Al Green, Pierce the Veil, and Primus.

“I lost my mother to cancer last year and want to do all I can do to help those affected by this cruel disease,” said Ingrid Michaelson. “I am honored to be a part of Ten bands One Cause benefiting Gilda’s Club NYC.”

The special reissues will be available nationwide starting September 29, in advance of Breast Cancer Awareness month this October.

Gilda’s Club NYC was founded in honor of Gilda Radner, a renowned, trailblazing comedian and original cast member of Saturday Night Live. Radner passed away due to ovarian cancer in 1989 and GCNYC was founded in her memory in 1995.

GCNYC’s mission is to support, educate and empower cancer patients and their families. Currently more than 4,200 men, women, teens and children attend free support groups, educational lectures and workshops at the West Village townhouse or at partner hospital locations around NYC. More than half of GCNYC’s members have cancer themselves; other members include family members or friends.

Last year, Ten Bands One Cause raised more than $30,000 for the organization.

Breast cancer is something that affects each one of us,” said Clutch band member Jean-Paul Gaster. “We are honored to lend our support to Gilda’s Club NYC and their mission to support, empower, educate cancer patients and their families.”

The albums to be re-released on pink vinyl:

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Dr. Dre Donates Funds from ‘Compton’ Album to Performance Arts Center

By James Pleasant

Dr. Dre fans had a reason to celebrate when he announced the release of his first album in 16 years last week. To make things even sweeter, the hip-hop mogul and super-producer will donate royalties from the new album, Compton, to build a performance arts center in his home town of Compton, Calif.

Dre shared the news Thursday night on DJ Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio program on Apple Music, preceding an exclusive stream of the album prior to its August 7 release.

According to Dre, the original idea for the arts center came from Compton Mayor Aja Brown, who was overcome with zeal when the rapper expressed in his interest in funding the project.

“I’ve been really trying to do something special for Compton and just couldn’t quite figure out what it was,” he said. “[Brown] actually had this idea and she was already in the process of working on it. I said ‘Boom, this is what we should do.’”

Brown expressed her enthusiasm for the project and for Dre’s involvement. “He clearly has a heart for Compton, especially our youth,” she said of the rapper. “I believe this performing arts center will provide a pathway for creative expression, exposure and training to the myriad of industries that support arts, entertainment and technology — while providing a much-needed safe haven for our youth.”

Compton is known for its violence and poverty — topics covered by countless LA rappers including Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and N.W.A. In the midst of the crack epidemic in the 1980s and the LA Riots in 1992, the city saw a significant rise in crime and gang violence. According to the 2010 Census, Compton has since seen a decrease in violence, but the problems remain. About 26.3% of Compton’s residents live below the poverty level, which further perpetuates gang-related and other violence as resources are scarce.

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LES amis Brings Fashion & Charitable Giving to Rockwood Music Hall

By Adisa Husejnovic

Designer Jemima Janney shows off stylish wares at the LES amis pop-up at NYC's Rockwood Music Hall

The creatively named non-profit LES amis has friends gathering in New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall with a shared desire to help the many homeless people of NYC. Founded by fashion designer Jemima Janney, LES amis is a non-profit fashion thrift store that works to eliminate waste from the fashion industry while raising money for local charities.

Janney, who has close ties to the music community as she recently married Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, explains the philosophy behind LES amis. “It’s a well known fact that everyone has clothes they don’t wear and LES amis has definitely proved the theory of ‘someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure!’” she says. “I realized that by collecting people’s unwanted but high-quality clothing, we could sell them at pop-up stores and donate the money to local charities.”

The thrift store is set up at Rockwood Music Hall prior to the NYC Communion Residency shows, and people can gain free entry to the gigs by making a purchase from LES amis and getting their hand stamped. The Communion Residency is a monthly, multi-genre showcase of emerging local and international talent in nine major US cities including New York, Nashville, Chicago and Washington DC. Recent NYC showcases have featured sets by Nick Mulvey, Sarah Jaffe, Arkells, Nothing but Thieves and Peter Matthew Bauer and have become a successful platform for new artists to perfect their craft and establish a community of loyal followers.

As carefully curated as the showcase itself, the thrift store has both new and vintage designer clothing and jewelry up for sale. Each item has a recommended price, but what people pay is up to them. Any clothing that is donated to LES amis and that’s unsuitable to sell is donated directly to The Bowery Mission.

This year, LES amis partnered with food rescue organization City Harvest. Founded in 1982, the non-profit helps feed more than 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger by collecting wasted food from restaurants and supermarkets and delivering it to more than 500 community programs. The organization now delivers some 136,000 pounds of food daily. Its Healthy Neighborhoods program also aims to increase the availability of affordable fruits and vegetables in low-income communities, as well as providing nutrition education. All proceeds from the past three LES amis events have been donated to City Harvest. A new charity will be selected for upcoming events.

The next LES amis/Communion event is set to take place September 9 at Rockwood Music Hall and will feature performances by CLARA-NOVA, Freedom Fry, Conrad Sewell, The Franklin Electric, Jae Jin, Mothers, The Tall Pines and Greg Holden.

For more information on City Harvest, click here, and for more information on LES amis, click here. You can also follow Communion Music on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about its NYC Residency.

Lollapalooza 2015: Rock Out with These Great Causes

Lollapalooza at Chicago's Grant Park

By James Pleasant

Along with a stellar lineup featuring the likes of Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence and the Machine, Flying Lotus, Alt-J and A$AP Rocky, Lollapalooza is once again focusing on giving back to the community by running its annual Lolla Cares initiative – a showcase of several fantastic non-profit organizations that the festival supports.

If you’re attending the Grant Park extravaganza taking place July 31-August 2, be sure to stop by some of the booths and check out these great causes. And if you can’t attend the festival, be sure to visit these organizations’ websites and catch live-streamed performances on Red Bull TV.

Chicago Cares

Chicago Cares works to build a stronger community by addressing issues including hunger, education, poverty and job readiness. These services are especially essential in a city that saw 432 murders in 2014, boasting one of the highest murder rates in the country. Founded in 1991 by Leslie Bluhm and Mary Prchal, the organization has amassed 500,000 volunteers, and is one of Chicago’s leading non-profits. Chicago Cares has created tens of thousands of programs to educate and empower volunteers to help shape the future of their community.

HeadCount 

HeadCount returns to Lolla this year to help register voters of all ages. The organization, founded in 2004, is focused on working with musicians and concerts in order to convince the masses to register and vote. HeadCount aims to persuade people to participate in politics, and stresses the importance of voting in order to make a direct impact on the community. The organization has registered more than 300,000 voters since 2004, and travels around the country staging voter registration drives at various music events.

Love Hope Strength Foundation 

Love Hope Strength is a cancer foundation promoting outreach and awareness programs for cancer victims, survivors and their families. In 2007, LHSF hosted the world’s highest concert on land at Mount Everest, gaining an audience of over 3 million through the internet and an MTV documentary. LHSF builds and funds cancer centers around the world, and is supported by several musicians including Wilco, The Doobie Brothers and Jason Mraz.

Meat Free Monday 

2015 Lollapalooza headliner Paul McCartney and his daughters Mary & Stella McCartney helped launch Meat Free Monday in 2009, which is a not-for-profit campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the health and environmental impacts of eating meat. The initiative, supported by celebrities such as Gwenyth Paltrow and Ricky Gervais, encourages people to refrain from eating meat at least once a week.

MusiCares 

MusiCares, established by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, provides musicians with financial and medical aid in their times of need, and treats each case with full confidentiality. The foundation offers programs such as emergency financial assistance, senior housing, outreach, and drug rehabilitation.

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Pearl Jam, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran & Coldplay to Headline 2015 Global Citizen Festival to Combat Worldwide Poverty

By James Pleasant

While most festivals with massive headliners such as Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay would charge an arm and a leg for tickets, the Global Citizen Festival is giving away tickets completely free. But there’s a catch — you’ll have to go on a journey to get them.

Fans can win tickets on the organization’s website by creating an account and taking part in an “Action Journey”, which entails completing a series of tweets, signing petitions, writing emails to various world leaders, and making phone calls to the U.S. State Department in order to promote relief efforts. Once all eight Action Journey tasks are completed, fans can enter to win tickets to the festival.

The free-ticketed event takes place September 26 on the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park, and is part of the Global Poverty Project – an international non-profit whose mission is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Approximately 48,000 free tickets are available to be won, and each winner will receive up to two tickets.

Several of the performing artists expressed their enthusiasm about being a part of the festival and mobilizing their fans to take action.

“We hope Pearl Jam fans will sign up to become Global Citizens – not just earn tickets to the show – but to be part of a movement that encourages leaders of nations with the greatest wealth to apply aid, trade and governance policies in support of nations and communities in the greatest need,” said Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard.

“I’m honored to be a part of the Global Citizen Festival,” said Beyoncé. “It has always stood for improving the lives of people everywhere, but this year is especially rewarding as we all join focuses and utilize our talents for one goal: to end extreme poverty globally.”

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Switchfoot Supports Underprivileged Youth with 11th Annual Bro-Am Concert and Surf Contest

Switchfoot perform at the Bro-Am 2015

Words & Photos by Nick King

Boards and bikinis were out in full force on Saturday as Switchfoot and other great bands took to the stage on Encinitas’ Moonlight Beach for the 11th annual Bro-Am surf competition and fundraising concert.

Surf jousting at the Switchfoot Bro-Am 2015

 

Over the years, the Switchfoot Bro-Am event has given to numerous children’s organizations around San Diego County, most of which are focused on aiding underprivileged and homeless youth. Switchfoot front-man Jon Foreman stated during the performance that he and his band became dedicated early on to giving back to the communities of San Diego. This year’s event focused on the opening of Switchfoot’s non-profit music school in Encinitas, Bro-Am Studios, in light of recent budget cuts to arts programs throughout San Diego County public schools. Foreman and his bandmates hope that their school will offer a creative outlet to children who lack the means to receive a musical education.

The Hurley-presented event kicked off with both amateur and sponsored surf competitions, followed by an extreme sport known as “Surf-Jousting” you may not have heard of. Geared up in colorful wetsuits and bicycle helmets, competitors fought bravely amidst the waves to knock their opponents off their boards with long padded batons.

Soon after, the first musical acts of the day could be heard playing an entirely solar-powered stage. Bands including Colony House and Needtobreathe maintained a folk-rock vibe while the other performers, Brynn Elliot and Drew Holcomb, graced the stage as eloquent singer-songwriters. After a raffle prize giveaway and a trophy ceremony for the surf competitors, Grammy-winning band Switchfoot performed to a lively crowd, galvanized by a strong sense of community and purpose.

The massively successful solar stage was just a part of the event’s “green” initiative. In addition to the entire event being “water-bottle free,” the Rob Machado Foundation provided volunteers to help manage proper recycling and composting efforts.

Other notable participants included the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms, which offers support for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, and thoughts of suicide, and Via-Sat, which employed students of Carlsbad High School to film and broadcast the event online.

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Brands That Give Back: A Report from Agenda 2015

By Laura Ferreiro

These days people look for more than just well made products – they also want to feel good about their purchases and know that the brands they love are doing their part to give back. While some companies are taking longer to catch on to this trend of corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices than others, it’s inspiring to see a handful of brands leading the charge. Here are a few that we caught up with at the Agenda trade show in Long Beach in July.

Give Perf founders Casey Courte and Brooke Beranek

Give Perf
Inspired by their world travels, newlyweds Casey Courte and Brooke Beranek launched Give Perf just over a year ago, selling globally sourced wares including Turkish towels, Mexican blankets, hats and bags online and through likeminded retailers including TOMS. The Southern California company’s simple yet luxurious products embody the brand’s philosophy that life’s most simple moments nourish the soul. It also does its part to give back, donating 15% of its profits to programs and charities that provide basic necessities such as nutritious meals and clean water for women, children and families around the world.

TOMS Sean McGuirk and Michael Makos

TOMS
TOMS helped pioneer the one-for-one model when it launched nearly a decade ago, giving a pair of shoes to a child in an impoverished country for every pair purchased. Now the brand has expanded its wares, selling eyewear, bags and coffee and supporting initiatives including helping to restore eyesight and supply clean water to the world’s poorest people.

Agenda-goers experience TOMS virtual giving tour

At Agenda, TOMS offered conference-goers the chance to experience one of its giving trips (almost) first-hand in a virtual world created using virtual reality 3-D goggles. We put them on and found ourselves riding through the plains of Peru in a jeep and arriving at a school where TOMS employees gave young students several free pairs of shoes, enabling them to walk to school, stay healthy and even dance.

Oliberte
This footwear company is the first of its kind to ever have a factory that was Fair Trade certified. It’s also a certified B Corp, which means it meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Oliberte makes its shoes in Ethiopia, supports workers’ rights there and creates fair jobs, paying its employees a living wage in its Addis Adaba factory. It partners with African suppliers, farmers and craftsmen to produce its products. What’s more, you’ll want to wear these stylishly scruffy shoes all the time, which include moccasins, wedges and a unique variation on combat boots.

Ten Tree
Lifestyle apparel company Ten Tree is making the world greener, one tree at a time. For every item sold, it plants 10 trees. So far it has planted more than 5 million trees around the world. Founded by 20-something entrepreneurs Dave Luba and Kalen Emsley, the company goes beyond using its Ten Tree philosophy as a marketing ploy and does everything it can to advocate for the environment. Even the Portland, Oregon-based manufacturer the brand contracts to make its clothing uses solar panels to generate its energy and disposes of waste in an environmentally responsible way. All that and Ten Tree’s tees, hoodies and pants are stylish and comfy.

Skrillex & Friends Team Up for Music Education on Full Flex Express Tour

By James Pleasant

Skrillex, typically known for his monstrous EDM anthems, is partnering with non-profit Bridges for Music on his Full Flex Express tour in support of music education.

During the tour, Skrillex’s handpicked acts will donate tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of music equipment to local youth music centers in each city on the tour, courtesy of Pioneer Corporation. The tour, spanning across Canadian provinces including Ottawa, Ontario and Pemberton, British Columbia, will also offer kids from these music centers the opportunity to learn how use the equipment in special demos, and exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at the show.

The tour will also support Bridges for Music – a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing music education to developing countries. A portion of the tour’s ticket sales will be donated to Bridges for Music’s fund to build the Langa Music School in Cape Town, South Africa.

Bridges for Music will also be offering prizes in exchange for donations through Urgency Network, a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter. Prizes include backstage passes and a VIP prize package to attend any Skrillex concert in North America, even covering flight and accommodation.

Bridges for Music has been part of several music education projects including a scholarship program, which offers underprivileged South African youth the opportunity to pursue higher education degrees in sound engineering, with courses in music production, music business and film. Musicians such as Richie Hawtin, Skrillex and Luciano serve as ambassadors to Bridges for Music, and have partnered with them on different projects. Bridges for Music believes that “music and artists can help bridge the extensive gap that exists between the rich and the poor as well as between different races in developing countries.”

Diplo, Zed’s Dead, A$AP Ferg, Tycho, Kiesza, Hundred Waters and more will join Skrillex on tour.

For more information about Full Flex Express and to purchase tickets, click here. To find out more about Bridges for Music and to enter the Skrillex competition, click here.