In The Garage Alliance Hopes To Provide A Safety Net For Dallas Musicians With Medical Needs.
When Trey Alfaro, drummer for the Dallas rock band The Phuss, was by hosting a string of benefit concerts meant to help the uninsured Alfaro pay off his increasing medical debts.
Of course, that's just one example of the support this community offers its fellow musicians in times of need. The recent, still-ongoing string of Drug Mountain reunion shows meant to raise funds to help Bludded Head frontman Nevada Hill pay for his skin cancer treatments is another. And, to be sure, it's a heartwarming thing to see this happen when it does.
But it also speaks to a second, and perhaps larger, issue at the heart of this matter: The unfortunate truth is that very few musicians in North Texas have any sort of health insurance plans or coverage.
Accepting that as truth, at least one group of music scene supporters has now set out to create a safety net of sorts for these uninsured musicians during their times of need. Through a series of proactive rather than reactive benefit shows, In The Garage Alliance, a nonprofit quietly formed this past summer by Dallas resident and fervent garage rock fan Greg Strong, hopes to create a rainy day fund of sorts for local musicians in need of help — money that can be doled out to those in need as it's needed rather than after the fact.
“As a long time garage, psych and punk guy — along with arriving at a certain stage of life — I was trying to come up with a way to channel my music passion for a good cause,” Strong says of his motives behind forming In The Garage Alliance. “Casting about, I focused on musician based charities such as HAAM and Sweet Relief and their doings and activities.”
And so he brought the idea to his friend John Iskander, who owns the local talent-buying and promotions agency Parade of Flesh and was quickly recruited to join the cause. Together, the two and their fellow collaborators decided upon the idea of throwing a series of concerts to raise funds for their efforts. How frequently the shows will take place is uncertain — quarterly? twice a year? — but one thing is certain: The first In The Garage Alliance benefit show will take place on Saturday, November 22, at Club Dada, and it will boast a bill featuring Miami rockers Jacuzzi Boys, Chicago rock duo White Mystery, Memphis psych-punks Ex-Cult, Dallas “margarita punk” band Sealion and Forth Worth post-punk upstart Bummer Vacation.
Says Strong: “This is kind of a 'training wheels' event as we continue working and experimenting on figuring out how to best raise more funds in 2015 and, most importantly, making a positive impact in local musicians lives.”
Training wheels or not, it's certainly an exciting bill, simply from a garage music fan's perspective. And making it even more exciting is the fact that Iskander says each of the bands have already been paid for, meaning that “literally one hundred percent” of the night's proceeds will go toward kickstarting In The Garage Alliance's beginning stages.
That, Iskander adds, is the important thing to kick in mind with this event.
“Booking events is not an issue,” Iskander says. “It's what we do with what we raise that matters.”
That, do a degree, is still to be determined as In The Garage Alliance grows. But Iskander does acknowledge that helping out musicians in circumstances like those Alfaro and Hill are facing is very much the crux of the idea — if also just a starting point.
“My own goal with it is to figure out a way to provide insurance and to not just be there when it's necessary,” Iskander says. “But we still don't know what's legal and possible in that regard. We're still figuring a lot of that out.”
Thankfully, at least someone is.
The first In The Garage Alliance fundraising show takes place on Saturday, November 22, at Club Dada. Tickets are $15 in advance and can be purchased here.