This year, AXE Music "One Night Only" concert series is visiting U.S. cities across the country, throwing shows with surprise guests like Weezer for one night only appearances. While giving people an opportunity to see their favorite band, they have also used it as a way to give back by donating funds from their Chicago concert on October 18, 2010 to Music Unites, a nonprofit organization that funds music education in inner city schools.
O.A.R. played the Chicago show to a packed house and was happy to be a part of something that gave back. Three of the band members Marc Roberge, Chris Culos and Richard On met in junior high, playing their first concert as early as sixth grade. In high school and college they rounded out the band with the addition of Benj Gershman and Jerry De Pizzo, playing university campuses and building a name for themselves with songs that spread via word of mouth like "Crazy Game of Poker," and "City on Down." To date, they've recorded six studios albums with another slated for release next year, played for throngs of fans at Madison Square Garden and performed for the troops in Iraq.
Despite their success, the band has remained down-to-earth and is involved in charitable endeavors. "This was a no brainer," says Marc of pairing with AXE and Music Unites to benefit music education programs in inner city schools. "I am a firm believer that if you combine music with learning you're going to find a very successful end result. My mother is a teacher and she's going on her 40th year of teaching and our drummer's mother is also a teacher. Coming up we always knew that education was a huge part of our families and it therefore became a huge part of our lives. Our parents believed that music was part of the umbrella of education, just like math. We were privileged to have a music class. I remember times in my life where I was amazing to have somewhere to go to be able to have music, to sing, to be in a choir, in chorus. There was that outlet. Today, even at 32 I can't imagine not having the outlet of music."
The band first became interested in philanthropic initiatives when music education was pulled out of schools in their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. "Kids deserve a few things in life. They deserve an education and the opportunity to thrive. Music is a way to help kids learn quicker, have more fun, and gives them something to do. A couple of us have kids now and we can't imagine a world where they didn't have the opportunity to be with music and the instruments and guidance," continues Marc.
Funds from the concert will be used for a number of programs at the Benito Huarez Community Academy in downtown Chicago. "We are so thankful for the donation from AXE and the cooperation and support of O.A.R.," says Music Unites founder Michelle Edgar. "The funds will be used to purchase instruments for 42 incoming freshman students who are currently unable to practice their musical instruments outside of class time because of the school's limited supplemental resources. This will allow them to take them home to practice and weekly private lessons during the school day."
In addition, funds will also be put towards enhanced teaching capabilities, such as private music lessons for the 42 students (which are currently unavailable), and professional development for the performing arts program's staff which presently includes three music teachers. Lastly, the funding would enable the school to organize excursions to universities to expose students to college-level rehearsals and performances.
AXE Music "One Night Only" series will be continuing the tour in more cities. To get in the know check the schedule here. For more information on Music Unites and how you can help, check www.MusicUnites.org.