Concerts fund music education, equipment


Written by:
Diana Wing
Guest Columnist

If your last concert experience hit a sour note — people munching, spilling their drinks and talking throughout the show — you may want to try a more intimate venue. Each month, LIVE The Music Foundation presents an evening of music in which an audience of less than 40 people can connect with the musicians in a candle-lit setting within The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music in Royal Oak.

“It’s fully produced. We have a full lighting rig and a PA system. You’d feel like you’re at a gigantic concert, but you get to shake hands with the person and chat about their music on the break. It’s almost like you have your own nightclub for the evening,” said Jason Gittinger, executive director of LIVE the Music Foundation and executive producer of The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music.

“Our live concert series is a great way for people to get together, connect with an artist and the music,” he said. “They are there to see that artist and hear their music in a way that you would with a symphony orchestra or an opera, only with contemporary music.”

As a LIVE The Music Foundation project, the concert series raises funds for equipment-related needs and music education scholarships at the school.

“There is a need all the time for people who can’t be here and need to be here, (like) the teenage girl who’s cutting herself and this is the highlight of her life but her parents have nothing. Up until the last year, there hasn’t been a vehicle to accept things to help people in that situation,” Gittinger said.

Foundation launch

In February of last year, Gittinger launched LIVE The Music Foundation with a special concert at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. Kevin Rushton, one of the first adult students at The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music, told Gittinger in November 2011 that he had a terminal illness, but he wanted to get back to playing in a band again. Gittinger created the concert experience so that Rushton, a bass player, would be able to play all of the songs he ever wanted to play with the school’s faculty group.

“It touched an amazing amount of people and generated enough money to buy a PA system for the Foundation,” said Gittinger, who noted that the nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization advocates for live music experiences to enhance people’s lives.

“I want music to be that positive, uplifting thing that keeps people from doing stupid things like alcohol and drugs,” he said. “Music propels people to come together in community with each other… An iPod is much cheaper, but live music brings people together in ways that an iPod cannot.”

Acoustic musicians JB Davies and Paul Gaughan perform at this month’s LIVE at The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music series, 8 p.m. Friday, April 26. Davies plays steel string guitar using a finger-style (no picks) technique. Gaughan, a singer-songwriter, draws inspiration from artists such as Neil Young, Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt. His songs represent a variety of styles including folk, rock and country. The artists will perform some of Gaughan’s original material that evening.

Tickets for the event are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For tickets, visit The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music is located at 1109 S. Washington Ave. Gittinger, who quit his regular gig as drummer for the Mega 80’s, is chairing the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts and has spent countless volunteer hours gathering support and organizing a six-event, Thursday evening outdoor summer concert series for families, singles, seniors and professionals on the lawn of the library in Royal Oak. Not yet announced, the “hip” family-friendly acts were envisioned as highlighting the diversity and cultural roots of the community. Warm weather, the library lawn and live music — sounds great!