Everybody Has A Story, the concert 2014. Giving back to the community that influenced us.
Providing the courage to step outside your comfort zone.
For those of us that were born in the middle of the century, in practically the middle of the United States and in the middle of the largest generation in American history, South Bend, Indiana. The River City, seemed like a stopover along the 80/90 Toll Road between the Ohio State line and Chicago. An older manufacturing town that supported great names like, Studebaker, Bendix, Wheelabrator, Drewery's beer, Wheelhorse, Oliver, among many others. Of course we have the University of Notre Dame and all the university can offer as far as significance to athletics, the Gipper, Four Horseman, Ara and I'm told that they've become highly regarded academically. Toss in a large campus at Indiana University South Bend, and a wonderful little college, Bethel and you basically have a 15 minute tour of the whole enchilada.
I grew up in South Bend. I left in 1971 and later returned to the area in the late 80's. Upon my return, I saw a great place to buy a house in Southwestern Michigan, along the Indiana State line and a greater place to prosper professionally and get to larger markets if necessary.
Now I'm seeing South Bend through different lenses.
I see a city whose struggle to contend with a loss of jobs, a downtown that was in disarray and a population that has been dwindling since I left the city suddenly stepping up to reenergize itself from the top down. This is where the story starts and probably where the opportunity to create a branded creative concept and marketing campaign has been created.
Enter CR Heckaman. As a young guy CR stood in front of 2500 high school students in 1969 with a guitar along with two buddies who each sang and played guitar and bass. This trio took me by surprise with their courage to entertain a mass of high school students in the middle of the Vietnam War, black and white students on opposite ends of the planets, and evolving teenage musical tastes – They stood alone in a auditorium to sing, play their hearts out. Folk songs. acoustic guitars, charming and sincere phrasing and voices. Who were these guys?
For now, this fledging group of community activists, singers, actors and other assorted theatrical soup has given me more than they could know –
They were oddly professional at that age. Especially in a school that offered a full plate of talent in the arts. They seemed to stick out as potential candidates for the few that were really listening – to read about someday. As with most things, The story has it that each of those young men chose a different path and not unlike the rest of us, went after other interests in order to make a living.
Reset the clock to 44 years later and the closest thing to a virtual class reunion takes place on Facebook. People from my high school are "friending" each other left and right, most have no idea to whom they are reaching out to. Just names that are vaguely familiar and more than likely were sitting with yearbooks next to their laptops. Out of the blue, Heckaman, the singer/songwriter who I remembered as a 16 year old popped up and the rest is pretty much history. We've become new friends at a time when we can tap into our professional history to create something that will have long-term benefit. Maybe even a legacy.
I like to contribute to my community 3 times a year with Pro Bono work. It's good for me and it's a win for the organization. I was invited to contribute to the development of marketing and advertising – a concert of eclectic music and variety acts, staged by the new group called "Everybody Has A Story" (www.ehassb.com) with Heckaman and a brilliant writer Lorraine Alden out of Kalamazoo, Michigan who is another high school chum.
When singer-guitarist Curt Heckaman reached out to his circle of friends to follow his vision and create an original concert event in support of the community. The result is a concert celebration to inspire pride and unity in all who attend. The goal is a musical-variety show that entertains, inform and delight, while benefitting a local charity. The 2014 beneficiary is the 360 Project, a non-profit ground that works with at-risk youth to help prepare shelter dogs for adoption.
The output of the creative process has been remarkable. The organization that was non-existent in December of 2013 is well-underway towards a full-fledged campaign for a September show with a series of mini-concerts. I've had the greatest of opportunities to create a program that provided me the platform for a high visiablitly, messaging program but it has also provided me with the a chance to revisit an art style that I left behind 30 years ago.
For now, this fledging group of community activists, singers, actors and other assorted theatrical soup has given me more than they could know – that is, the chance to step out of my comfort zone, at least for a little while.