July 2018 - Turn it Up: The 5th Annual Blues, Brews, and Bikes Festival benefiting The Freedom of Mu
Tell us about the The Freedom in Music Project?
The Freedom in Music Project is an Acoustic Guitar Program that gives facilities six acoustic guitars, three sets of extra strings and more on Average. As I was a professional guitarist and I wanted to give the youth a decent instrument. The Project started almost eight years ago after I suffered a career-ending injury from one needle during a botched blood draw. It's all about bringing hope through music to at-risk youth in New Mexico and Texas! We have 14 Programs in New Mexico and two in Texas, 12 Youth Detention Centers, three recovery academies and one halfway house! The entire project is to bring in teachers that can become mentors to the incarcerated youth. Our latest Program is at the Delancey Street Foundation in Espanola, NM with five acoustic guitars plus two congas and stand, two Timbales and Stand, Keyboard and Percussion Equipment! We're a 501c3 and 100% Volunteer Program. Nobody makes any money doing this. We're $45,000.00 in the red as I write this from our Latest Financials and realistically my wife, Linda, and I have invested $85,000 of our own personal resources but as we say, "How can you put a price tag on a human life!"
Where did the inspiration come from to start this organization?
After my wife, Linda, and I met, knowing I was a musician, she had the idea of getting music out to incarcerated youth and The Freedom in Music Project happened. We go out and give a concert talking about recovery, sharing our experience, strength, and hope and then surprise the youth and young adults with the acoustic guitars The artists support is amazing. Was it a struggle at the beginning to find that support or was it a quick response?
All artists that we've approached have been wonderful and have provided signed guitars that we sell raffle tickets for or auction them off. We've had guitars signed by Tommy Emmanuel, Jesse Cook, Buddy Guy, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Bo Diddley to name a few!
What can we expect from the 5th Annual event?
We have world-renowned guitarist, Justin “the "Wizard" Johnson as our headliner again this year! He'll be bringing songs from his newest CD, Turquoise Trail, which was inspired by his visit last year. We have a fantastic lineup for Saturday: The High Desert Blues Band, The Cody Jasper Band, Texas Deuce - a Father and Son Blues Duo from Texas, Eric McFadden from LA/Hollywood, originally from New Mexico, The Chase Walker Band, and young kids that are going to rock the blues, along with an closing All-Star jam! Only $15.00 for Friday night and $25.00 for Saturday night.
What success stories can you give since the organization started?
Certificates of Volunteer Appreciation from the City of Albuquerque five years in a row. In 2017, we received awards from the New Mexico State Commission, The Albuquerque Journal and The Chamber of Commerce. The Taos Mesa Brewing Amphitheater was named The Freedom in Music Project Amphitheater in 2017, which was very honoring and humbling. We check into each facility on a yearly basis and in Amarillo, two of our programs have been very successful. Texas A&M University got involved with the program at the High Plains Youth Detention Center and Transitional Living Center. We've been able to give 100 acoustic guitars through the program that still remain in use!
The 5th Annual Blues, Brews, and Bikes Festival is on August 3rd and 4th at Taos Brewing Company in Taos, New Mexico. Learn more and purchase your tickets at http://www.taosmesabrewing.com/