Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Healing Power of Music: Breast Cancer Benefit with Tim Be Told

Almost everyone has been there. You are in a dark place, suffering, not knowing what to do. And then you play your favorite music, and suddenly, all of the weight has been lifted from your shoulders – clarity consume. And even if it’s just for that moment in time, everything is at peace, and you have serenity. Music has the amazing power to heal the soul and ease the mind. Additionally, it can be used to help raise money for people trying to heal the body. On October 29, 2009, the alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority hosted a benefit concert for Susan G. Komen for the Cure – an organization that supports breast cancer research.

Before the event began, there was some music playing in the background while a slide show of the sorority was playing. One song in particular caught my attention. Muse’s new song “Uprising” was playing. As I listen to the lyrics, it hits me: this is one of the most empowering songs I’ve ever heard. If this song were a metaphor for fighting cancer – be it as a patient, loved one, doctor, or researcher – then people would be encouraged to battle an illness that can be beat. People find inspiration and power from many things. For me, I found it in this song. Breast cancer will not control us, and we will be victorious. By holding a concert to raise awareness, and advocating early detection and treatment, breast cancer can be curable. But now, let’s get back to the music.

After a brief presentation by the sorority with facts about breast cancer awareness, the musical portion began. The Virginia Belles, an al female a cappella group on Grounds performed two songs, the first of which was “Use Somebody.” This song is performed by Kings of Leon, a boy band. This cross-gender performance, along with the change from alternative to a cappella, had an evident affect on the sound and vibe of the song. The original song has a raw, grainy, rock vibe to it; the Belles performed a more polished and soothing, yet still powerful version of the song. In a way, the vocals in both versions have an inherent passion in them, possibly from the lyrics. The Belles also performed “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You” by James Morrison; however, the sound was not so different between the two versions of this song. In this case, there was again a cross-gender performance, but the original song is pop-rock. The soulful nature of the song, along with the performance of the Belles, created less of a difference between the feel of the original song with the cover.

Continuing with the difference between performances, Tim Be Told sounds completely different live compared to on an album. When I went to the concert, I got more of an alternative vibe from them. It was raw and edgy, the instrumentation felt very real, and the passion in the music was tangible. On the album, the vibe was felt more pop, which is the genre iTunes lists them under. The music still has it’s originality and passion, but it sounds more constricted and polished. I suppose this is jus the nature of a studio recording versus a live performance.

At the live show, they reminded me of Something Corporate, an alternative/pop punk/piano rock band from Orange County California, or Parachute, formerly known as Charlottesville,Va’s very own Sparky’s Flaw. Tim Be Told is also a local band from Charlottesville, Va. After doing a little research, I discovered that Andrew, the lead guitarist, is from California; this may be why I felt that SoCo vibe. Also, according to their MySpace page, they consider themselves soul, pop, rock, gospel and blues. I definitely feel that this fully encompasses all of the musical genres that they draw from. The song topics often have a bluesy, gospel influence. And the feel of the music can definitely be considered pop, to some degree. But I think the raw passion I hear in the band comes from the soul and rock aspects of the music. During the performance, every member of the band had several moments when they could display their talent and show their desire to create music that is meaningful and original.

I think what made the band feel so tangible and not a typical corporate, all for the money, thing was that Tim opened up and shared a few personal stories with the audience that were clearly difficult for him to share. Also, the band played a couple of songs that are currently not in release. These things, plus the sheer and amazing talent, caused a good relationship between the band and the audience. The audience kept giving positive feedback, with screams for special requests and encores. The small and intimate setting of the UVa chapel was also a huge factor in the how the band and audience interacted the overall concert experience. Tim Be Told put on an authentic and musically exquisite concert, minus all the corporate and commercial, superficial and showy fluff that tends to distract from the reason for the concert – the music. Overall, I think the concert was great success. Money and awareness were raised for an excellent cause. And I finally got to experience the best concert I think I have ever attended.

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