The organizer of the event, Billy Hoffman, and I take a quick break for a picture. (photo courtesy of Billy Hoffman)
Having a good time while you’re supporting a good cause is pretty much the best kind of win-win situation there is. And that’s exactly what occurred this summer at Buddies Tavern in Sayreville, NJ on August 7th. Bands from all around New Jersey came out to perform in a special show to benefit the National Wildlife Federation and their efforts in helping the wildlife of the Gulf Coast after the oil spill. A large and enthusiastic crowd came out to show their support as well. (And I had the special honor of emceeing the event!)
Chelsea Gohd on her ukulele. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)
Opening the show was South Brunswick, NJ resident and recent high school graduate, Chelsea Gohd. The only ukulele player of the night (and probably the first I’ve ever seen perform live), Gohd was whimsical and fun and set the tone for the evening. When asked about why she plays the ukulele, she said, “I’ve been singing all my life, and started guitar at around 12 or 13. A couple of years ago I asked for a ukulele for the holidays, and picked it up and completely love it!”
Gohd is starting at Rutgers University this fall to major in environmental science and is a vegetarian and animal lover, so the show benefiting the National Wildlife Federation was a good fit for her. Of the work that the National Wildlife Federation does, and is doing for the animals of the Gulf Coast, she says, “I’m glad they’re there to help!”
Rene Avila and Jay Renda from Clash of Influence. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)
Having played music most of his life and been in many bands through the years, Rene Avila has recently become a solo, acoustic act. He plays gigs and open mics in New Jersey and New York, and is looking to put a band together for his original, hard rock songs.
“I found out about the benefit through my girlfriend,” Avila says. When he learned that the show would benefit the National Wildlife Federation, he immediately wanted to do what he could to help out.
Don Guerrazzi and The Greater Kudu
Already booked for another gig earlier in the day, Don Guerrazzi couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the stage with other dedicated musicians helping out the National Wildlife Federation. Guerrazzi says, “I was really excited we were asked to be a part of the show – we knew it was going to be a long day but what a better way to close out the night than playing music, meeting new people and raising money for a great cause.”
Guerrazzi even added a verse to his cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” to pay special tribute to the night’s cause: “Kudu makes a habit living up to the hype / And every chance we get – We support the Wildlife / ‘Cause it’s a Wild Life / And it’s a Wild World / I see some Wild Girls / I like your Style Girls…”
Don Guerrazzi and The Greater Kudu. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)
The Greater Kudu’s collective focus is currently about gaining exposure and growing as musicians and as a band. They are always on the lookout for new venues and this was the first time they performed at Buddies Tavern. “From that show,” Guerrazzi says, “we have booked two additional shows and have made some great relationships with fellow musicians.”
Clash of influence
Headlining the benefit show was Clash of Influence. Guitarist, Billy Hoffman, felt that, “This is one of the worst environmental disaster our country has ever seen, and it seems that nobody from our government, corporate America, or our sports & entertainment superstars are doing anything to help. We are the first nation to rush to the aid of other countries, yet we basically ignore the needs of our own, I wanted to show that it is the common man and woman who can really make a difference in this world.”
The oil spill devastation is vast, but Hoffman and Clash of Influence wanted to specifically help the wildlife of the area. “I think we all felt that The National Wildlife Federation was the best choice to receive the donation because we wanted to be sure the money was used to help benefit the animals and environment, and they are a very reputable organization. We all feel bad for the people that have been affected by the oil spill, but ultimately it is the animals and environment that have suffered the worst from this disaster.”
Clash of Influence rocking out at Buddies Tavern. (photo by Christina Rudczynksi)
Clash of Influence has performed at Buddies Tavern in the past and felt that it was a logical venue for the benefit. Buddies owner, Mike Grau supported the event wholeheartedly and donated 10% of sales that night to the National Wildlife Federation.
Perfect Crime and Slightly Used also performed and entertained the crowd. The successful show was the result of a lot of hard work and the collaboration of donors and supporters including: Mike Grau, Amanda Theurich, Lisa Sciblia, Michelle Cutler, Alicia Van Sant & Brian Ostering – from The Wag, The Village Barber Shop, Nick Borzone and Lola’s Latin Bistro, Andrea Di Meglio and Luca’s Ristorante (Somerset), Kristen Lafrank, Amanda Donnelly, Colby Krolak, Joe Butler, Liz Balogh, and Maria Cavalari and The Racing Form.
Hoffman says, “I am thankful to everyone who help make this a success…the performers, the donors, the volunteers who helped with the preparation and running of the show and the people who came out to support us and gave at the door. It was a true group effort and I think we all really accomplished something amazing.”
The benefit raised over $1,000 dollars for the National Wildlife Federation. If you weren’t able to attend the benefit show, you can still support the National Wildlife Federation by clicking this link and making a donation!
Me, surrounded by the handsome guys of The Greater Kudu. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)
The Jersey Girl
Find out more about these bands here:
Rene Avila on MySpace
Don Guerrazzi (Official Website)
Don Guerrazzi (facebook Page)
Clash of Influence (Official Website)
Clash of Influence (facebook Page)
Perfect Crime (facebook Page)
Slightly Used (facebook Page)
National Wildlife Federation