Some of the coolest lineups we’ve seen for area shows are benefit shows. Maybe no group of musicians has put on more cool benefit shows than the community of friends and/or rockers in Morgantown.
This Saturday night, there’s another one lined up at 123 Pleasant Street. Juna, Dave Bello, Michael J. Iafrate, D.C.’s The Common Cold and a new Magic Town act, Bonfire, come together to help raise money for the Morgantown Area Youth Services Project. MAYSP basically helps at-risk kids deal with whatever problems they might have (drugs, delinquency, etc.) and hopefully stay out of and away from the more hardcore criminal/juvenile justice system -- always a good thing.
And these kids better straighten up -- the Director’s name is Danny Trejo! Haha.
Seriously, we caught up with Iafrate and Bello to get their thoughts on the benefit show scene up there, and talked to MAYSP juvenile counselor Zach Francis to see what motivated him to arrange the show, and learn more about what MAYSP does (see mp3 interview below).
WVRS: What were each of your reactions when approached about playing this MAYSP show?
Michael J. Iafrate: I know people who work there and people who are involved in setting this thing up, and they are good people so I said yes.
David F. Bello: I was totally into it. Most of the time when someone asks me to do a benefit show, I agree, just because I like playing shows more than not playing shows, but it’s typically a great cause. This is definitely a great cause, and I was really glad to be given the chance to help out.
WVRS: Iafrate -- Have you decided on a set list? Are you playing all covers?
MJI: I usually will throw one cover song into a set but I don’t think I have ever played a set of all covers, so I will probably play all covers just for fun.
WVRS: Dave -- What’s your set gonna consist of? Any special lineup or songs or anything?
DFB: I’m playing solo with electric guitar, which is what I’ve done the last couple times I’ve played. I used to do that exclusively, but then I got into doing solo shows with just my vocals and a delay/looping pedal. Now I’m back playing all the songs I couldn’t do in that format... really old ones, really new ones.
WVRS: Iafrate -- You described your music as “Theo-folk,” saying your religion makes its way into your songs. Do you think this kind of background, maybe a social justice perspective, makes you more likely to lend your music to a cause like this?
MJI: For sure. I’m a critical participant in a particular religious tradition, and one of the themes I keep coming back to is the hypocrisy that is almost inherent in this tradition, a disconnect between what people say they believe and what they actually stand for in politics and in real life. Social justice is a concern of mine in my songs and in what I try to do as a musician, but not really only because of the religious themes that happen in M Iafrate (& The Priesthood) songs. All of the bands I have ever been in have played a lot of benefit shows because I started playing music in more of a punk rock context and the social concern thing is a strong part of that. Certainly I think bands that sing about social justice should try to embody that in how they operate as a band somehow rather than just preach about it.
WVRS: Bello -- What is up with any projects you’re involved with, musical or otherwise creative?
DFB: Well I’ve been working on my next solo album for far too long, but it will be ready soon. Also, me and my band are starting to work on a full-length together that should blow any of my solo recordings out of the water.
WVRS: Iafrate -- What is the status of this new record, “Christian Burial,” or the outtakes CD “Idolatry,” how far along are you on either of those?
MJI: M Iafrate & The Priesthood started recording a new full length that is tentatively called Christian Burial. Dave Klug, who plays drums in the band, is recording it at his studio in Pittsburgh. I have about 15 songs I’m bringing to the sessions and we'll probably trim that down to ten or something. We’ve only had one session so we aren’t very far along in the actual recording, but in terms of production this record will be a bit harder than the last one but also a little more twangy, with lap steel guitars and fiddles and things.
WVRS: For people who might not recognize Common Cold and/or Bonfire, are they local acts? Is one of these a debut-ey band?
DFB: I don’t know about Common Cold, but Bonfire are a bunch of my friends who have been in really cool bands around here before, and I’m really excited to see what they come up with! As far as I know, this is their first show.
MJI: The Common Cold is from Maryland/DC area from what I understand. Don’t know anything about them other that. Bonfire is a long-awaited new local band featuring members of Depresbyterians.
WVRS: There have been no shortage of cool, progressive kind of benefit shows at 123 in recent years; what is it about the community of musicians and friends who come together to help good causes?
DFB: I think everyone is pretty motivated to play shows regardless of money involved, so the opportunity to play a show where the money that’s made goes to something more important than a couple cases of beer or whatever is pretty tempting.
MJI: I think because it is just that: a community. Not to idealize the Morgantown scene, but it really is a community and out of that comes a concern for what’s going on in the community and what we can do about it together.
“A Few Good Minutes” mp3 interview with Zach Francis
Powered by Podbean.com
To contact Zach at MAYSP:
bumper music by: The Emergency