Five Wholesome Acts from 2018

Brett Murray – Forum News Service

From fighting hunger to homelessness, 2018 was full of feel-good moments courtesy of rock stars.

Before the barrage “New year, new me” tweets file in from your friends, let’s reflect on some of 2018’s better moments. Believe it or not, this year was not all doom and gloom. In fact, the rock and metal community produced several feel-good, wholesome moments throughout the year. It’s not uncommon that musicians donate to charities or perform good deeds, both on and off the stage. This year was no exception. Here are several moments in 2018, where rock stars made the world a more positive place.

Fighting Hunger, All Within Their Hands

As part of their All Within My Hands Foundation, Metallica donated $10,000 to a local food bank in every city on their recent WorldWired Tour. According to the Foundation’s website, All Within My Hands core focus is, “…dedicated to creating sustainable communities by supporting workforce education, the fight against hunger, and other critical local services.”

Since forming the foundation in February of 2017, the band has provided assistance in the fight against hunger on every stop of the tour, albeit abroad or stateside. Metallica will continue to donate until the tour’s conclusion in August.

Hometown Heroes

Pearl Jam have never been strangers to activism. Most know about the feud with Ticketmaster in 1995, but in recent years, the band has been extremely active in giving to others in need. Since 2014, frontman Eddie Vedder has been supporting research for finding an EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) cure, a devastating genetic skin disorder. In 2016, the band collectively donated $300,000 to the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

2018 was no exception, as Pearl Jam raised nearly $11 million to fight homelessness in the Seattle area. Homelessness has been an epidemic in Seattle, a city that most of Pearl Jam still call home. “Something has to be done,” guitarist Mike McCready said of his hometown’s homeless problem. “We certainly don’t have all the answers, and I’m not saying that. But there’s enough smart organizations and people in Seattle that can get together and come up with some sort of plan — long term, not short term.”

To get that plan rolling, Pearl Jam returned to their Seattle roots in August, playing a pair of concerts dubbed “The Home Shows.” Being their first Seattle dates in five years, both shows instantly sold out (as per usual with Pearl Jam concerts). The three hour marathon performances not only raised $11 million, but spread even more awareness to an issue involving so many metro areas.

“We’re Seattleites,” guitarist Stone Gossard told the Seattle Times in October. “We’re going to be here, our business is going to be here, and we’re going to remain in this conversation.”

Owen-ing the Stage

Behold yet another example of Dave Grohl being the nicest human being on this planet. You can write a 20,000 word dissertation on Grohl’s kind acts for humanity, and still have material to work with upon completion. This October, Dave was especially wholesome.

Foo Fighters are no strangers to inviting fans on stage to perform with them. Monkeywrench in particular has brought us Kiss Guy and Joey, Dave’s younger, Australian doppelganger. For the Kansas City stop on their Concrete and Gold Tour, the band invited 10-year old guitar god, Collier, on stage to rip through a few Metallica songs. This particular instance gained a lot of publicity, but one that went slightly under the radar, was Owen being pulled on stage in St. Paul just six days later. 

Owen begins to shred at the 3:10 mark.

Early in the set, Dave invited Owen to sit stageside. Owen is blind, autistic, and suffers from Crohn’s disease, but has a passion for live music. With that, Dave let Owen shred a few chords during the band’s performance of La Dee Da. Unlike Kiss Guy, Joey, and Collier, Owen coming up on stage was more of a low-key appearance. Some fans thought it was a tired child that got invited on stage to essentially wake up. Owen’s mother explained the situation in more detail on Consequence of Sound’s Facebook post.

Nevertheless, simply letting a kid with developmental disabilities rock out and strum a guitar for a few seconds is an unforgettable moment for him and his family. Likewise, it is a direct reflection of the kind of people the Foo Fighters are.

Buddies on the Beat

This past October, Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg hosted and organized a benefit gig called Buddies on the Beat in Nashville. The concert was in conjunction with Best Buddies, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for “one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).” Weinberg told Forbes that the idea stemmed from an event hosted by the Nashville Predators called Preds & Threads, a fashion show aimed at helping numerous nonprofits, including Best Buddies.

The benefit concert included intimate performances from Mastodon, the Offspring, Dashboard Confessional, as well as appearances from several members of the Nashville Predators. Those in attendance even got to see Jay behind the kit with his old man, Max Weinberg of the E-Street Band, for a Helter Skelter cover.

Though a relatively new venture, Weinberg is fully committed to the program, telling Forbes that it has essentially become a full-time job. Weinberg has been paired up with a fellow drummer, Daniel, who he not only frequently keeps in contact with, but also collaborated with for a jam session at Blackbird Studio in Nashville.

Hopefully, like Preds & Threads, Buddies on the Beat will be an annual event that will continue to grow in the Music City.  

Double Duty

Sometimes the lead singer quits a tour for a mental break, other times it’s to cure laryngitis, and occasionally, his wife will have twins in the middle of said tour, causing him to immediately fly back to Florida to be with his family.

The latter is what Trivium’s Matt Heafy encountered in October (what is it with October and wholesomeness?).

Rather than canceling the remainder of the tour, Heafy instead gained some assistance from his friends. Howard Jones (Light the Torch, formerly of Killswitch Engage), Avatar’s Johannes Eckerström, and YouTube personality Jared Dines all subbed in for Heafy during the final stretch of their tour, filling in on vocals for Trivium after their respective band’s performance earlier in the night. The trio, along with the remaining Trivium members, formed an underground metal supergroup of sorts.

Night in and night out, this was a treat for fans. It is rare for a band to not cancel shows with the absence of their lead singer, let alone have your friends fill in for you. A month later, Heafy returned the favor to Jones and Eckerström, with acoustic covers of their respective bands. This whole story is a testament to Heafy and Trivium, Jones, Eckerström, Dines, and the tight-knit metal community, in general.

Where to Donate

Feeling generous? Donate to any of the charities mentioned or organized by the artists featured above, by following the links below.

All Within My Hands

King County Coalition on Homelessness

YouthCare

EB Research

Best Buddies