Act Local

Act Local is a series of benefit concerts I’ve done for various causes. Prior to coming up with the name, I’d done a benefit for victims of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and worked with Rock the Vote and Rock for Choice.

At every Act Local show, we invite neighborhood and activist¬† groups to set up information tables. We know that people want to make changes in the world, but sometimes they don’t know how to start. We connect the energy of rock music with the desire for change and have a good time in the process.

On January 15, 2006, we put on “Rock for Hurricane Relief,” a mini-festival that featured 30 bands on 3 stages in the old Knitting Factory. In addition to sets by The Wrens, The Stalkers, Langhorne Slim, Parts and Labor, Maplewood, and Hopewell, there was a raffle with gifts from 50 sponsors, a tarot card reader, free breakfast for the earlybirds, giftbags, and a kissing booth. We raised nearly $10,000 for the Southern Arts Federation Emergency Relief Fund, a group that helped artists and musicians replace equipment and instruments lost in the floods. Sponsors included Spiewak, Bust Magazine, Toys in Babeland, Mark Costmetics, The Bagel Factory, The Village Voice, and The Brooklyn Rail.

In June 2007, we put on a benefit “friendraiser” show to raise awareness and get signatures on a petition to landmark the historic Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Despite the pouring rain, more than 600 people gathered in Grand Ferry Park to see the bands play and demonstrate support for local history. The main buildings were landmarked, and will remain, but the developers of the site are currently planning a series of high-density industrial towers around them. Don’t get me started.

Automotive High School is situated on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, in McCarren Park. The school has overcome a lot of challenges and has raised its graduation rate by 73% in the past 5 years. Three years ago they fielded their first football team and launched a school musical. After amazing performances of “Grease” (2007) and “West Side Story” (2008), the musical was going to be cut due to budget constraints. We were thrilled to put on a show in April ’09¬† featuring two great local bands and a band from Auto as well. A few months later “Guys and Dolls” went on to rave reviews!

Raise the Roof was a fundraiser for the Northside Town Hall and Community Center. Two local advocacy groups, the People’s Firehouse and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, need funds to renovate Engine 212, a former firehouse that will be a one-stop shop for neighborhood issues, tenant advocacy, open space issues, managing development and more.

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