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 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, 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.


ONE, co-founded by U2’s Bono, is an advocacy and international campaigning organization fighting to end extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases around the world—namely in Africa, and raises public and political awareness to combat life-threatening issues such as AIDS. The organization has seen a number of successes in its advocacy efforts, and currently 9 million people in Africa today have access to AIDS medication — up from 50,000 in 2002. In previous years, ONE’s booth at Lollapalooza offered festival-goers the opportunity to write postcards to their representatives, asking them to support and advocate the Electrify Africa Act, which aims to provide electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Arica.

Oxfam America 

Like ONE, Oxfam America is another organization combatting extreme poverty in developing countries. The Chicago chapter of Oxfam American will represent the organization at Lollapalooza, encouraging fans to fight against global poverty and injustice. The music-savvy charity released a free Summer Jams mixtape ( earlier this year, featuring tracks from Mew, Father John Misty, Ra Ra Riot and more.


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is arguably the largest animal rights organization in the world, and has amassed more than 3 million members and supporters. The organization has received tons of media attention since its founding in 1980, and is endorsed by countless celebrities. It primarily focuses on protecting animals from factory farms, the clothing trade, laboratories, and harmful entertainment industry practices.

Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote is the largest non-profit organization that specifically aims on encouraging young people to flex their political power and vote. The organization fuses pop culture with politics, making voting more enticing and accessible to younger audiences. Founded in 1990, Rock the Vote has helped encourage youth to create political and social change for 25 years through television campaigns and appearances at pop culture events. Rock the Vote has processed nearly 7 million voter registrations since its inception.


Soberside is an initiative comprised of clean and sober music fans who choose to remain sober (alcohol and drug free) at music festivals. The tent will be on-sight at Lolla for any music fans who choose to remain sober during the festivities.

Syd Rocks

Syd Rocks is a Chicago-based foundation that raises awareness and funds research for Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis, a rare disease of the bone marrow and lymph nodes—primarily affecting children. Syd Rocks will be selling necklaces, t-shirts, hats and bracelets at Lollapalooza to raise funds for its cause.

Working Bikes 

Working Bikes will be at Lollapalooza for the fourth year in a row. The organization is dedicated to rescuing discarded bikes and redistributing them to impoverished communities. Throughout the years, the organization has shipped thousands of donated bicycles to countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, South Africa and Ghana. The Chicago-based organization also donates bikes to poor and homeless people throughout the city. This year, the organization will have a booth offering music fans the chance to try out their bike machines.

To learn more about Lollapalooza 2015, click here. Remember – have fun, stay safe, and make sure to check out these great causes in between sets!

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 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.

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.

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


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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