Music contest to benefit vet groups

kjahner@newsobserver.comJuly 12, 2013 

Given Garner’s recent efforts to promote veterans and the arts – pillars in the recent All-America City win – the Doing Good Network’s 2013 Bands 4 Good competition couldn’t have fit the town’s interests much better.

In November the Garner Performing Arts Center will host the finals of this year’s competition, an annual event where aspiring artists enter songs online to raise money for charities. The songs this year will have military themes and money raised will benefit various organizations supporting veterans.

In a press conference at GPAC Tuesday, the Doing Good Network also announced that Raleigh native and actor Ira David Wood IV would serve as master of ceremonies for the GPAC event and host weekly podcasts along the way. Leaders of the Doing Good Network and vet organizations – as well as Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams – praised of the event and the dual goals of helping veterans and aspiring artists.

Retired Gen. Buck Kernan said that in time of tightening budgets, the impetus was greater than ever to help veterans, who make up a little under 1 percent of the nation’s population.

“We have to step in as a society to help provide for the necessary support to make sure that families have the right kind quality of life they are entitled to, that the children get the right kind of education, they get the opportunity to go to college,” said the four-star general who once commanded Fort Bragg and now serves on the advisory board of the Patriot Foundation.

John Faulkenberry, president of the USO of NC, said he constantly hears three main areas where veterans need help: assistance in transition to civilian life and finding employment in particular, dealing with emotional baggage that can include traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress, and working through financial literacy issues.

“The need is great,” Faulkenberry said.

Williams, a Vietnam veteran and member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, said he was proud that the event would involve Garner.

“I tell people, of all those titles I’ve had, the greatest title that I enjoyed, my most pristine title, is ‘Veteran.’” Williams said. “If you’re helping veterans, if you’re military people…God will bless you.”

Leaders of Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America also spoke about their mission and their support of the project.

So far, 12 groups that have tentatively committed to be part of the Bands 4 Good challenges, including Enable America, Hearts Apart, Military Family Lifestyle Charitable Foundation, North Carolina Heroes Fund, Purple Heart Homes, Rolling Thunder of North Carolina, the Special Forces Association and U.S. Veterans Corps. More could still be added, organizers said.

N.C. Artists get an outlet

Wood grew up in Raleigh as the son of Ira David Wood III, the longtime artistic and executive director of Theater in the Park in Pullen Park. The 28-year-old actor has appeared in One Tree Hill among other shows. He also showed up in Punk’d, where he helped the show prank actress and sister Evan Rachel Wood (who has played, among other roles, Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne in True Blood).

Wood returned to his hometown and now focuses on Theater in the Park, where he’s played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol – a role long played by his father – among other roles. He cited wanting to “put something back to the soil” in his hometown arts scene as a reason for moving back from Los Angeles. And beyond helping veterans, he saw Bands 4 Good through the eyes of an artist who wanted to expand exposure for others searching for a platform.

“Being an artist can make you feel strange and it can make you feel different,” Wood said at the press conference.

He recounted conversations he’d had with Wake County acting products like Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) about finding opportunities.

“Talking with those two, they had some of the same experiences I did where there are rare opportunities where artists and musicians and actors really get a podium and get a voice,” Wood said.

“Something like the Doing Good Network that doesn’t take, but gives – I feel in really good company and glad to be here.”

John Davenport, a co-founder of the Doing Good Network and long-time music producer, also said he hopes that Bands 4 Good Challenges bring to light new talent from the state.

“The beauty around the DGN is that it really seeks out youth talent, gives them a chance to show their talent, and they don’t need an expensive recording studio to do this,” Davenport said. “This is a fun way to help all of these great causes and charities.”

Jahner: 919-829-4822

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