A rock and roll ‘thank you’ to veterans

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A group of local musicians, led by songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Jonathan Auerbach, will rock out this coming Sunday, May 26, in support of the men and women who have fought for our country. This is the second year in a row that Mr. Auerbach has organized and presented a Memorial Day benefit concert on the Vineyard.

The $10 suggestion donation will go to the Dukes County Veterans’ Services. All proceeds from Mr. Auerbach’s CDs sold at the event will go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which supports the families of military personnel lost in service to our nation, and for severely wounded service members and veterans. And Richard Paradise has donated use of the M.V. Film Center for the concert.

“I’m proud of our service veterans,” says Mr. Auerbach. “It’s an all-volunteer military. The idea for this event is that it’s all volunteers. I just think there’s this huge hurt, this huge need. We want to serve those who have served us. As I see it we’re all veteran advocates.”

Mr. Auerbach and his partner, vocalist Carole Charlin, along with Alejandro Carreñ;o on percussion, will perform two sets of original songs. The composer describes his music as, “A distinctive power house sound. I like to go in for big depth and reach in sound — rock, decidedly not folk.”

Mr. Auerbach and Ms. Charlin have performed throughout the country and in Europe. Most recently this past winter and spring, the two served as musicians in residence at the Pathways Projects Institutes series at the Chilmark Tavern. During their tenure, they wrote original music for a dance performance and headlined a number of music evenings. Last fall they played the sold-out opening night event for the annual Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival. For the last few years they have played at venues and private parties around the Island and will continue to do so this summer after they return from a U.S. and Caribbean tour in July.

Mr. Auerbach, a veteran journalist and editor who has covered politics, travel, food and wine, and lifestyle, started focusing full-time on his musical career about 12 years ago. His articles have appeared in The Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor, among others.

“My emphasis is on writing strong stories and putting them to song,” he says, adding, “I’m always trying to create a big visceral bang with the audience.”

Mr. Auerbach has recorded three CDs that have received airplay in the U.S. and abroad, and earned critical praise. He not only performs but teaches music and produces other musicians under his record label, Arrofire music/ASCAP.

The title of one of Mr. Auerbach’s original songs, “Brave Woman/Brave Man” lends its name to the upcoming Memorial Day event. A three-minute video of the hard-hitting rock song, shot last year in Katama, will be shown at the concert. The song is a thank you and a way to honor veterans. Mr. Auerbach explains the genesis of the song: “In 2010 I did my third CD in Nashville. I wrote ‘Brave Woman/Brave Man’ as a tribute to the troops. It got good airplay as sort of a rallying tune, if you will.

“I wanted to do more than just say thanks. I thought about how I could give back. I looked around to link the song with an organization. Through my research, I chose a group who I thought was doing the best work for wounded vets and their families.”

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has given more than $120 million in support for wounded service members and their families. The organization is currently engaged in a $100 million fundraising campaign to construct a series of satellite centers at military bases around the country that will help diagnose and treat traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Find out more at fallenheroesfund.org.

Proceeds from sales ofBrave Woman/Brave Man,” whether hard copy or digital, go to the fund. Mr. Auerbach hopes to impart more than one message with the song by recognizing both genders. “The title ‘Brave Woman/Brave Man’ draws attention to this change in our society in the makeup of our armed forces.”

This is not the first time Mr. Auerbach has donated his time and talents to a charitable cause. Seven years ago he joined with the music therapy program at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. For many years, Mr. Auerbach not only taught guitar to pediatric cancer patients through the Rockin’ Time Jam Workshops that he created, he also donated a percentage of his music sales and helped raise money and awareness to the program, which is ongoing today.

Mr. Auerbach hopes to eventually expand the Vineyard Memorial Day concerts into a series of similar events in other areas. Of his ongoing support, he says, “With bravery and valor, American military personnel — fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters — have given us so much as Americans. Helping our veterans and their families is my mission, of gratitude and of giving back.”

The Memorial Day event will start off with Edson Rodgers, Ret. Chief Petty Officer of Martha’s Vineyard, playing military music calls on his trumpet. Prior to the concert Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy, who Mr. Auerbach calls “a one woman army,” will make a brief introduction followed by a screening of the short film “Fish Out of Water,” about Iraq and Afghanistan war vets with PTSD who find solace and camaraderie fishing in the waters of Ketchum, Idaho.

Vineyard Memorial Day Veterans Benefit Concert, Sunday, May 26, 4–6 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. $10 suggested donation. jonathanauerbach.com; fallenheroesfund.org.