The benefits of school music programs are far reaching and life spanning. Beyond simply learning how to play a piano or a violin or a guitar, etc., young students of music also gain important life lessons. School music programs directly help shape character and individual abilities, as well as offer a way to help channel ideas and ideals throughout ones life. Hence, it is disheartening when, especially in these harsh economic times, the budgets for school music programs as well as other areas of the arts are typically the first to get slashed.
It was with this in mind that the three concerned individuals behind this week's fun & eclectic Soul Food No. 2 benefit for San Francisco music programs pooled their creative resources. Skateboarder and musician Tommy Guerrero, musician Marc Capelle, and artist & Gallery 16 owner/operator Griff Williams -- all vocal supporters of music in school programs -- are throwing the second in the Soul Food series of benefit shows "that present film and music together in a gallery setting to raise funds for local charities that have an obvious, honest, effective, and immediate impact on our neighborhoods," according to Williams. Following the success of their last Soul Food benefit (for the San Francisco Food Bank) they decided this time work to help support MuST (Music In Schools Today), geared to get musical instruments into SF area schools. Longtime SF artist Tommy Guererro, himself a former SF school district student, is most passionate about the need for school music programs and for their continuation. "Music is the only language that everyone understands: the great communicator," he told me when asked what he saw as the main benefits of school music programs. "Oh, and jocks don't hang out in music class...less beatings that way," he added with a laugh.
"Music is an essential form of communication and art for all of us, not just the youth. We need real music coming at us from every demographic and geographic location," added fellow benefit organizer, SF native & graduate of the SF school system Marc Capelle. "It encourages math and language skills through the systems it teaches, it teaches people to have control of their diaphragmatic breathing, it brings disparate people together and teaches them common cultures. With enough music education hopefully we can grow some new talent for the world that relies on talent and humanity, instead of the digital photo-shopped out mess we see on American Idol."
Both Capelle (Marc And The Casuals) and Guerrero are among the musicians playing at tomorrow's mixed media event that also includes renowned keyboardist, producer and frequent Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark. All in all it sounds like it will be one funky night of music! Guerrero told me we could expect "A lot of improvising!" from his set. The night will also include DJ Chas Gaudi plus a rare selection of movies curated by Stephen Parr from the over 50,000 film deep archives of San Francisco's Oddball Films. There will also be complimentary beer and wine for those who donate.
Donations should not be limited to just cash. The organizers urge anyone with instruments (in good condition) to spare to bring them along for donation. The instruments and music gear needed includes electric and acoustic guitars, electric keyboards, violins, drums, music stands, microphones, and metronomes. "This list is specific, so don't be bringing any broken banjos!" states Williams in the pledge drive description.
Soul Food No.2 takes place tomorrow, Friday, March 26, at Gallery 16 is at 501 Third Street (at Bryant). 7pm. Donations: $20. For more event & gallery information click here. And to directly donate online to MuST click here.