Benefit Features

November Recap/December Picks

While I’m still getting adjusted to the whole blogging thing I’m trying to start a few topics to follow through with each month, such as a monthly “recap” that I’ll hopefully post at the end or beginning of each month as well as monthly “picks”or suggestions for an upcoming month. Here’s a recap of some cool things that went on in the month of November:

Pandora Radio
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. To pass the time at work I’ve been listening to music. Anything from various YouTube videos to listening to random HD radio stations that stream online. However, there are only so many radio stations you can listen to throughout the day and I haven’t figured out how to play continuous music on YouTube yet. A bunch of the people I work with kept talking about Pandora radio and I had no clue what they were talking about, so I decided to check it out. And let me tell you – it’s the coolest thing ever! I mean, iPods are great and everything, but how many times have you listened to the same songs? With Pandora you just type in an artist and it comes up with all this music that is similar to that artist and continuously plays it for you and you can skip to the next song if you don’t like it. However, if you do like the song just click the thumbs up sign so the player knows to play it again at a later point. I tried a bunch of different artists and got a pretty interesting combination of songs to listen to throughout the day. Music really makes the day go by so much quicker, I think it helps with the stress too. Pandora just added classical music to their collection as well as a variety of holiday tunes to listen to. Just go to to check it out and see for yourself.

Paste Magazine
For two weeks this month, Paste Magazine let readers decide how much they wanted to pay for a one-year subscription. This idea is unheard of in the magazine world, but thanks to Radiohead’s recent success with letting fans pay whatever they decided for their recent album, Paste thought, why not give it a try? I’m sure they’ll be seeing an increase in subscriptions. I just subscribed. Check out the article here.

New York Women in Communications
I went to a talk this month at the Hearst Tower with Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines, hosted by New York Women in Communications. I’ve attended one other event which featured Jancee Dunn, former Rolling Stone writer and MTV 2 veejay who discussed her book, “But Enough About Me, A Jersey Girl’s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous.” Attending these events really inspires me to keep writing and do what I love. Jancee, especially, was so great because I admire her and aspire to become a writer like her one day. Cathie was so great to listen to because it seems like she really is able to handle such a major responsibility – overseeing so many magazines as well as have a healthy family and social life. She talked about her book, “Basic Black,” described as the essential guide for getting ahead at work and in life.

It seems as if every month the albums released get better and better. Two of my favorites just released are Alicia Keys’ As I Am and Jon Foreman of Switchfoot’s Fall. They both fall more into the easy listening, which I think everyone needs to listen to just to unwind and forget about all the stressful things in life.

Bands Making a Difference
I don’t know if this section will be in every month’s post but I really hope it is. This month I was blown away by Switchfoot, Relient K and Ruth’s efforts in giving back to their communities. Not only did these three bands donate $1 from every ticket sold on their fall “Appetite for Construction” tour to Habitat for Humanity – raising well over $67,000 – but they also went out on Habitat builds throughout various tour stops, building alongside homeowners and fans that decided to join Habitat and help out. I was lucky enough to chat with Chad and Jon from Switchfoot and they are definitely some of the nicest and most down to earth guys in the music industry today. Their entire crew and fan base are just something special that bands should look up to and epitomize.

December Picks
There are a bunch of great concerts coming up this December – 3 of which are happening just next week that I think everyone should consider going to.

Sharsheret Breast Cancer Benefit Concert
Sunday, December 2
Multipurpose Room, Rutgers Student Center
College Ave. Campus, New Brunswick, NJ
7:30-10:30 p.m.

My friend Monica is putting on a benefit concert and helping raise money for Sharsheret, a national breast cancer organization. It will be a night of live music by female performers including Rutgers’ very own all-female acappella group Shockwave, Hip Hop/Alternative performer Shira, and headlining the show, Ladino artist Sarah Aroeste. Ticket prices are $5 for students and $12 for the public, and are a minimum donation to Sharsheret.

New York Musicians Release Benefit Holiday Album
Wednesday, December 5
The Delancey
168 Delancey St, NY
8 p.m. -12 a.m.

Just in time for the holidays, The Delancey will be hosting a holiday album release party next Wednesday. All proceeds from album, A Family Holiday, will be donated to 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and helping teachers inspire their students to write.

The night will include performances from some of the artists showcased on the album as well as feature DJ sets from Hot Rocks’ Jenny Piston and Underrated Magazine’s Rachael Darmanin.

Singer/songwriter Benjamin Wagner began the project with the help of Family Records. Albums can be purchased the night of the release party or on the MySpace site, There is no cover charge.

Army of Me with Liam and Me
Thursday, December 6
Union Hall
702 Union St., Brooklyn, NY
Doors open: 8 p.m. Show: 9 p.m.
Tickets $10

D.C. rockers Army of Me will be hitting up New York Thursday night playing some of their old fan favorites as well as songs from their debut album, Citizen. You may recognize their single, “Going Through Changes,” from being featured on various MTV shows. Check out their MySpace page for more of their sound.

Concert Reviews

Switchfoot, Relient K and Ruth Raise Over $67,000 on Tour Benefiting Habitat for Humanity

Special thanks to Wendy Hu for the amazing concert photos! All credit goes to her. Feel free to click the link above to read the review on

Minutes before 10 p.m. Hammerstein Ballroom went dark and the sound of guitar chords from radio hit, “Meant to Live” could be heard on stage. Screams echoed throughout the room. The spotlights came on and Switchfoot quickly began playing “Oh! Gravity” – first single off of their sixth album of the same name. The energy was high, both on and off the stage as each new song was played. “Stars” was their second song of the night and after that was one crowd favorite, “This is Your Life,” as singer Jon Foreman sang at the edge of the stage, leaning into the crowd.

Having been to three Switchfoot shows in the past three years, I’ve always wondered how they keep up their energy for every night of the tour. Drummer Chad Butler explained that the motivation is connecting with the audience.

“In our live show there’s a conversation, it’s a two-way dialogue. To have the audience singing it back is amazing. To have people after each show come up and say how much a song means to them, that’s motivating,” Butler said. And the audience was singing along all night.

Switchfoot kept the show fresh with a few remixes of old hits throughout their set. One song in particular “Gone,” started out with band members singing a Beyonce song and then intertwining Rihanna’s “Umbrella.”

Having recently broken from record label Columbia, Jon Foreman announced that this is Switchfoot’s first show in New York City as an independent band.

While singing “American Dream,” the entire band paused, for which seemed like eternity, frozen in their spots, seemingly making the point that a house with a white, picket fence and 2.5 kids is not, in fact, their American dream.

Singer Jon Foreman has the most energy of any performer I’ve come across. During “Dirty Second Hands,” he played a symbol, spinning around in circles while hitting it. Slowing down the night a bit, when playing “On Fire,” Jon jumped into the crowd and started singing to the audience, while balancing on the first level railing of box seats adjacent to the stage. Later, during hit single, “Meant to Live,” he crowd-surfed into the audience for a while, the crowd later gracefully placing him back on the stage.

The highlight of the evening occurred when all three bands took the stage to perform a song entitled, “Rebuild.” Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Matt Thiessen of Relient K wrote “Rebuild” and released it specifically for their “Appetite for Construction Tour” where $1 from every ticket is going to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Fans can go onto and purchase the song, thus directly donating money to Habitat for Humanity. The tour has raised over $67,000 for Habitat, all three bands helping out on builds throughout the tour.

“Our goal is to encourage people to donate time locally in their own city. One of the most amazing things about Habitat is you don’t need to have any prior experience or expertise . . . they’ll put you to work and you make a difference. I’ve been really excited to see our audience come down to the sites and help out,” Butler said.

Matt Thiessen of Relient K agrees. “One of the best things of this tour is the meaning behind it,” he told the audience. “One dollar of every ticket goes to Habitat for Humanity. We want to encourage everyone to check out their local chapters and go to some sites. It’s a lot easier than you think. We’re never completely content with where we are in life. We need to be compassionate. Being compassionate is what makes us feel alive.”

The rest of the Switchfoot set was strong. Jon played an acoustic number with special guest, Keith Tutt on cello, for the infamous crowd favorites, “Only Hope,” and the beginning of “Dare You to Move,” until the rest of the band came out, resulting in the entire Ballroom singing along to the last song while Jon thanked everyone for being a part of the last 10 years.

Butler said “Dare You to Move,” is one of his favorite songs to play live. It’s one of the songs that they play halfway around the world and the audience sings along to every word. “We wrote it many years ago and it’s the highlight of the night. No matter where we go the audience is singing along. There’s a unity that exists inside a rock club that rarely exists anywhere else where you have strangers putting their arms around each other singing along. It’s a connection that I rarely see anywhere else. Music is a powerful thing. It brings people together.”

Both Relient K and Ruth had strong sets. Relient K played some new songs from their latest album, “Five Score and Seven Years Ago,” as well as surprised the crowd with their holiday version of “Sleigh ride,” from their holiday album, cleverly titled, “Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer.” With fake snow falling from the lights and an inflatable snowman, Christmas tree, and polar bear, Relient K got the Ballroom into the holiday spirit.

Like Switchfoot, Relient K played an hour set showcasing hit singles, “Be My Escape,” and “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been.” They even covered 80s Tears for Fears hit, “Head Over Heels” with remarkable precis
ion, as well as wrote a “love song” dedicated to hit TV show, “The Office.”

One of the highlights of Relient K’s set was when
they hand-picked three members of the audience to help them out on a song. One boy played a few guitar chords for the song while two girls helped out on tambourines.

Opening act Ruth performed for their first time in New York. They had a strong 20 minute set. Hailing from Washington State, they played a song entitled, “Here in New York,” and you could see their excitement throughout their performance to be playing in the city that never sleeps. Lead singer Dustin Ruth told the crowd how stoked he was to be on tour with Switchfoot and Relient K, explaining how surreal it is for Ruth to be on tour with their heroes.

Although the concert ended at 11 p.m., Jon had a special treat for fans waiting outside in the cold well past midnight. He took out his guitar and gave 30 or so fans an impromptu performance of songs “24” and “Somebody’s Baby,” which will be featured on his “Winter” EP. Jon and the rest of the guys from Switchfoot were on 35th St. signing autographs and taking pictures until 1 a.m.