Roger Waters, Billy Corgan & Others to Perform at the 2015 Music Heals Concert for Wounded Veterans

Roger Waters

By James Pleasant

Progressive rock icon Roger Waters will headline the 2015 Music Heals benefit concert in Washington D.C. on October 16, which will raise funds for MusicCorps, a charity that supports injured veterans through music.

The concert at D.C.’s Constitutional Hall will also feature performances by Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, Sheryl Crow and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.

MusiCorps is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting wounded veterans during their rehabilitation process. The organization helps injured serviceman learn how to play music, and how to cope with their ailments. MusiCorps’ music rehabilitation program integrates visits by famous musicians who mentor the veterans, helping them learn, play, write, record, and perform music as part of the MusiCorps band.

“By injecting music into this space, we can inject life,” said MusiCorps founder, Arthur Bloom. Bloom believes that playing music serves as healing power for veterans physically and mentally devastated from serving overseas.

The MusiCorps band has performed with top recording musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Aaron Neville, and the Kansas City Symphony, and have played at the Kennedy Center, Madison Square Garden, and on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

Waters has been part of MusiCorps for several years, serving as a mentor for the MusiCorps Band.

“The work I have done over the last few years with these men and women has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever done,” said the Pink Floyd musician.

In his work with MusiCorps, Waters has played with veterans at the Walter Reed Hospital in D.C., assisting them with their music. In December 2012, he joined the MusiCorps band at the Stand Up for Heroes benefit concert in New York.

During his summer tour with Smashing Pumpkins, Corgan will also be raising money and awareness for wounded veterans and their families in partnership with Easter Seals Dixon Center – an organization dedicated to helping veterans integrate back into society.

To learn more about MusiCorp and the work they do, click here. For tickets to the Music Heals benefit concert, click here.

PDX Pop Now! Festival Showcases Rising Portland Bands While Benefiting Local Non-Profit

By Anna DiBlosi

The spotlight shines on Portland’s music community during the annual PDX Pop Now! Festival, showcasing more than 40 of Rose City’s best emerging bands July 24-26 underneath the city’s famed Hawthorne Bridge at AudioCinema.

The PDX Pop Now! Festival is a free, all-ages festival that has partnered with the non-profit, student-run organization Music in The Schools.

The organization works within the Portland Public School District to create music education opportunities such as free music classes and workshops to educate students about the music business and how to create original music.

The three days of festivities include live musical entertainment, a record fair, street fair, food carts and Rigsketball, the annual raucous band-on-band basketball tournament.

Minden will perform at PDX Pop Now! 2015

The live performances are designed to unite locals and visitors alike through a common love of music, and will include genres spanning hip-hop, metal, folk and pop for an authentic sampling of the Portland music scene. As a non-profit working with students, the festival highlights sets by local high school musicians such as Amber Moon, Arbo and Dad Rock.

PDX Pop Now! is dedicated to stimulating and expanding participation in Portland-based music, according to the PDX Pop Now! mission statement. The organization aspires to advance a sustainable community that values inclusivity and a high caliber of artistry to enable a creative dialogue between artists and audiences.

A typical day of programming sponsored by PDX Pop Now! and Music in The Schools consists of workshops led by arts educators and hands-on time with musical instruments – a first for many students in classrooms across the city.

To fundraise and promote the festival, PDX Pop Now! is releasing a two-disc compilation of music from up-and-coming Portland-based artists. The tracks were carefully selected by a panel of festival board members and volunteers that screen submissions looking for diversity, representation and popularity.

The compilation features an array of Rose City bands including Minden, Brownish Black, The Domestics, Kool Stuff Katie, Rasheed Jamal, White Glove, Fog Father and more. It costs just $8 and is available though local, independent record stores and online. To see a complete track list or purchase a copy of the 2015 compilation, go here.

For more information on tickets or how to get involved with the PDX Pop Now! Festival, click here.

Non-Profit Label Freedom Beat Promotes Non-Violent Resistance Through Music

Hip-hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage is featured on the Freedom Beat label

By James Pleasant

Record labels are usually known for signing and promoting whichever artists they believe will reap the highest profit, regardless of their style or the subject matter they address. However, new record label Freedom Beat officially launched last week, breaking those stigmas and shedding light on artists who address a number of social issues and nonviolent resistance movements.

Freedom Beat is a non-profit record label dedicated to providing resources, distribution, and raising awareness for artists who make music that addresses important social issues. The label emphasizes the important role music plays in non-violent civil resistance, and features artists from around the globe. The label’s aim is to shed light on social issues throughout the world, allowing artists to educate audiences about their respective country’s struggles.

The label will release a compilation album of “nonviolent resistance” in the fall featuring a number of its artists. The compilation will include artists such as Poetic Pilgrimage (UK), El General (Tunisia), Moshen Namjoo (Iran), Native Suns (UK), and more.

In an interview with Freedom Beat, UK hip-hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage lamented racism and prejudice that Muslims face throughout the world. The duo also discussed the importance of hip-hop in serving as the voice of oppressed, disenfranchised minorities who are often silenced and ignored in the wake of civil injustice. Their song “Silence Is Consent” discusses issues such as the Israeli-led violence Palestinians face in the Gaza Strip, and the discrimination women face in Middle-East nations like Iran.

El General, a Tunisian hip-hop artist, often raps about injustices his people face, and was even imprisoned prior to the Tunisian Jasmine revolution because of song lyrics he had written. According to El General, he was arrested by the Ministry of Interior, but was released shortly afterwards thanks in part to the outrage expressed by his fans on social media, and coverage from media outlets such as Al Jazeera.

Native Suns, another act featured on this compilation, is a UK hip-hop duo whose lyrics address issues of African-empowerment, and the number of injustices Africa has faced throughout history and currently endures as a result of colonialism and exploitation.

“Freedom Beat is a truly exciting endeavor that will shine a spotlight on the creative power of nonviolent resistance and the role of music in inspiring and sustaining nonviolent campaigns and movements around the world,” said Maria J. Stephen, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. “From South Africa to Estonia to Tunisia to Burkina Faso, artists — and musicians, in particular — have been the heart and soul of successful people power movements for rights, justice, and dignity.”

Freedom Beat’s staff is made up of a diverse group of people devoted to documentary filmmaking, music, digital media, art, peacebuilding, and nonviolent action. The organization aims to educate the masses about a number of global injustices around the world in a nonviolent, peaceful fashion. The label’s website will feature stories, artist profiles, and links to its artists’ music.

Headbangers Unite at Metal for Nepal Benefit Concerts

Kyng

Although heavy metal isn’t something usually associated with Nepal, Metal for Nepal is about to change that. Following the recent tragic earthquakes in Nepal, a series of Metal for Nepal benefit concerts has been announced to raise funds for the quake victims.

The first show will be held in Los Angeles on June 13 at the Complex in Glendale, with headliners KYNG and sludge quartet 16, as well as LA-based metal bands Thrown Into Exile and Kaustick.

Boston will also have its very own Metal for Nepal benefit on June 20 at Middle East Nightclub featuring Obsidian Tongue, Native Construct and more.

“The power of music never ceases to amaze and the metal community is no different,” Kyng drummer Pepe Clark told Revolver. “Metal for Nepal is an amazing effort to help others in need and we are honored to have been asked to participate.”

All proceeds raised from the show will go to support the non-profit organization No Silence For Nepal, which was founded by musicians in the metal community to aid victims of the Nepal earthquake. They are currently working to provide water, food, clothing and medicine to people in the affected areas. No Silence For Nepal is also making an effort to help rebuild damaged homes.

For more information, check out Metal For Nepal’s Facebook page here.

Jack Johnson Joins the 5 Gyres SEA Change Expedition to Spread Awareness of Plastic Pollution in the Ocean

Jack Johnson sets sail with the 5 Gyres expedition crew

By James Pleasant

Singer-songwriter and long-time environmental activist Jack Johnson has joined the 5 Gyres non-profit organization on an expedition to spread awareness and educate people about plastics pollution in the world’s oceans.

On June 2, Johnson, alongside the 5 Gyres SEA Change Expedition crew, departed from Miami, FL on a journey to research the impacts of plastics on the aquatic ecosystem and marine life.

During the expedition, Johnson will become a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme, and participate in the 5 Gyres SEA Change Youth Summit in the Bahamas to educate children, and explore solutions to the plastics pollution epidemic in the ocean.

“As someone who loves and lives in the ocean, I couldn’t be more excited to be participating in 5 Gyres’ SEA Change Expedition and youth summit,” said Johnson. “I look forward to learning alongside the students, while helping to raise awareness of plastic free solutions and the importance of reducing our dependency on single-use plastics.”

On June 9, during the second leg of the expedition, Johnson and crew will embark on a week-long sail to Bermuda, mapping and collecting data to figure out the amount of plastics in this part of the ocean. They will collect data including mass, size, color and type of plastics in order to provide accurate information about the water pollution.

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Sweetlife Festival Continues with More Healthy, Locally Grown Food & Performances by The Weeknd, Calvin Harris & Charli XCX

Sweetlife festival-goers got to choose from an array of healthy food options

By James Pleasant

Day 2 of the Sweetlife Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, offered another helping of healthy, seasonal food options, and more amazing music performances by The Weeknd, Charli XCX, Vic Mensa, and many more.

One of the most interesting aspects of the festival was the vast array of food trucks that came from all over the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Big Cheese, a food truck based in Arlington, VA, offered festival-goers three different types of freshly-made, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches–the most notable being the “Thrilled Cheese,” which included chipotle cheese, guacamole and spicy jalapenos. Woodland’s Vegan Bistro offered delicious, vegan alternatives such as Ginger Spiced Tofu, Fried Chik’n Sandwich (made from crispy bean curd), and a Crab Cake Sandwich made from a soy meat patty.

Charli XCX rocks the crowd at the Sweetlife Festival

The festival’s innovative concept not only stresses the importance of eating nutritious, locally grown food, but also the significance of stimulating local economies by doing so. Purchasing locally grown food helps to support local businesses and growers, instead of simply boosting the profits of large corporations.

The Sweetlife Festival also offered festival-goers a wide array of locally brewed craft beer from places such as Mountain State Brewery, DC Brau, and Peak Organic Brewery.

On Sunday, the festival seemed even more crowded than it was on Saturday, as Phantogram, Vic Mensa, The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, and others played at the Merriweather’s three stages.

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Sweetlife Festival Combines Performances by Kendrick Lamar, Pixies & More with Healthful, Locally Grown Fare

Kendrick Lamar performs at the Sweetlife Festival

By James Pleasant

More than your average music festival, Sweetlife brings together renowned artists, music fans and smartly sourced, seasonal food. Day 1 of the festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD boasted incredible performances by artists including Kendrick Lamar, Pixies and Bleachers while offering festival-goers an array of healthful eating options from the likes of Applegate Farms, The Sprouted Spoon, Woodland’s Vegan Bistro and, of course, festival organizers Sweetgreen restaurant, with dishes including kale Caesar salad, hummus cups and gazpacho.

Festival-goers also got to choose from several food trucks serving freshly made, locally sourced food. What’s more, proceeds from the festival will go to support Sweetgreen in Schools, an educational program that introduces kids to the benefits of healthy, nutritious eating.

Sweetlife festival-goer enjoys a healthy popsicle

Sweetlife’s three stages were packed to the gills when Lamar, Pixies, Bleachers, SZA, Misterwives, Tove Lo, and other artists played in the sweltering heat at Sweetgreen’s sixth annual Sweetlife Festival.

One of the first acts of the day, pop-rock band Misterwives, played a surprisingly charismatic set, greeting fans with clever pop songwriting, which included saxophone and trumpet parts. Misterwives ended their set with an energetic cover of the hit single “Uptown Funk” by producer Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, before thanking the crowd for receiving them with an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

Bleachers perform at Day 1 of the Sweetlife Festival

Bleachers, the side project of fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, received a thunderous reaction from the crowd during his set. Antonoff, along with his touring band, played bombastic arena-rock heavily influenced by ‘80s rock musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Antonoff worked the crowd with near flawless charisma, coaxing them to cheer and chant. Bleachers’ set also featured two drum kits, which added further punchiness and impact to the band’s soaring, anthemic melodies.

Along with his main band fun., Antonoff started a charity called Ally Coalition, which provides support and fights discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Early in the evening, alternative R&B singer SZA, dressed in basketball shorts and a crop-top, played a soulful set. SZA sensually danced around the stage as she performed her brand of dreamy neo-soul. On the song “Warm Winds,” pristine jazz chords and slick R&B drums accentuated SZA’s powerful voice and cadence. Her song, “Child’s Play,” featured a prominent sample of the tune “About You” by producer XXYYXX, which gave the track an ethereal quality. The highlight of SZA’s set was a performance of the song “Aftermath.” The track featured shimmering keys and powerful piano chords, as well as an interpolation of the song “Sucka N***a” by classic hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Every member of her touring band was in a tight pocket, and played in an almost trancelike state.

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Drake, Alt-J & The Strokes to Headline the First-Ever Landmark Music Festival to Restore the National Mall

The Strokes

By James Pleasant

Drake, Alt-J, The Strokes and several other notable musicians are scheduled to play at the inaugural Landmark Music Festival at Washington, D.C.’s West Potomac Park on September 26-27 to raise funds and awareness for the restoration of the National Mall.

The festival, hosted by the Trust of the National Mall, will include performances from more than 40 artists of both mainstream and underground notoriety, including fun. frontman Nate Ruess, CHVRCHES, Chromeo, and TV on the Radio. The diverse lineup will also feature performances from New Orleans blues band Dr. John & the Nite Trippers, and rapper Wale.

By bringing together a diverse, multicultural group of artists, the festival aims to appeal to a wide range of people in order to yield a large turnout, and educate various demographics about the importance and history of the national park. While serving as a celebration of the National Mall, the festival also aims to “restore [the] voice, values, and history” of Washington D.C.’s famed national park, according to the official Landmark Music Festival website.

The National Mall in Washington, DC

The Trust for the National Mall is a non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement, preservation, and restoration of the National Mall, which hasn’t undergone a major renovation in nearly 40 years. The Landmark Festival is the first event in the Trust’s Landmark Campaign for the National Mall, which is designed to ultimately restore and expand the park.

The National Mall is one of the most notable landmarks in Washington D.C., and is home to famous structures such as the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol building, and the Lincoln Memorial. It is the most visited national park in the country, hosting more than 29 million people every year. As a result, the park has suffered a great deal of wear-and-tear over the years, and maintenance has been neglected. The park is also suffering from infrastructural issues such as overgrown weeds, weathering structures, and water pollution.

For more information about The Landmark Festival, go here. To learn more about The Trust for the National Mall, go here.

Queens of the Stone Age, Paramore and Jimmy Eat World Team Up to Launch Charity Benefiting Disabled Musicians

Josh Homme is a co-founder of The Sweet Stuff Foundation

By Anna DiBlosi

Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme, alongside bands Paramore and Jimmy Eat World, launched the charity The Sweet Stuff Foundation to support career musicians and recording engineers with medical treatment, income assistance and more in times of need.

Since the launch, additional bands such as Vampire Weekend and the Foo Fighters have offered their support, with the Foo Fighters recently touting the Foundation’s good work on their Facebook page.

The Sweet Stuff provides necessities such as income assistance, medical treatment, and special treatments not covered by insurance to help career musicians and their families in times of illness or disability, according to the Foundation’s mission statement.

The Foundation takes a “two pronged approach,” which means providing both assistance for musicians with illness or disability and fostering musical creativity for children through outlets such as music lessons, instruments and musical collaborations.

Currently working to increase program funding and awareness, Homme is planning a benefit event for the end of this year. The event, though still in the planning stages, is slated to feature Homme and others who wish to aid in publicly promoting the cause.

“Getting the word out, getting people involved, that’s our goal right now,” said Cecilia Diaz of The Sweet Stuff Foundation.

The Sweet Stuff Foundation began in 2013 and it’s now stepping up its efforts to gain notoriety. One of its initial beneficiaries was Austin Pettit, a career musician known for his work with Grinder Switch and the Austin Pettit Band. When he was diagnosed with cancer and pulmonary disease, the Foundation stepped in and helped his family pay their mortgage and keep their home.

For more information about The Sweet Stuff Foundation or to get involved, go here.

 

Sia Launches Mobile Game Inspired by Her Bob Hairdo in Support of Animal Rights

By Kristina Rideout

Pop star Sia has long been a defender of animal rights, and now she has found a fun and creative way to support pet adoption and no-kill shelters. Along with this week’s release of the digital deluxe version of her hit album 1000 Forms of Fear, the famously bobbed Aussie songtress has also launched a new game called “Bob Job.”

The game, which is available via the App Store and on Google Play, lets users match up sets of dogs, unicorns, bob haircuts and more in 100 different levels of play. Sia’s tunes including “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” soundtrack the game, and in its promo video, tech magazines humorously sing its praises, and Silicon Valley fans will appreciate Pied Piper’s rave, “Bob Job kicks our algorithm’s ass.”

This cute and quirky game, which was designed by Sia herself, also supports Best Friends Animal Society.  Best Friends Animal Society helped to pioneer the no-kill movement and helps to implement programs that reduce the number of animals entering shelters, and increasing pet adoptions. In Los Angeles, Best Friends is leading No-Kill Los Angeles, a citywide initiative, with the goal of making the city into a no-kill community. You can learn more about their work here.