Local Bands Jam For Flint and Standing Rock on Sunday Night
For Mark Joseph, it’s about more than just the music. The local rocker has built up quite a following after years of performing and recording with several bands–he uses the podium this gives him in support of a variety of social justice causes.
On Sunday night, January 15, Joseph’s band The Human Condition joins other performers on the great stage of the Great American Music Hall to raise awareness–and funds–for those affected by the clean water crisis in Flint, Michigan and the ongoing battle at the Standing Rock reservation. Doors open at 7:30. A Benefit For Clean Water begins at 8pm. 100% of the evening’s proceeds will be divided between Flint and Standing Rock residents.
“Standing Rock is important because it has drawn greater media attention to the issue of pipelines–not just Dakota Access Pipeline, there are many more out there–that will eventually break and pollute water sources that all kinds of communities depend on for clean water,” Joseph explains. “The Colonial Pipeline in Alabama recently exploded causing the governor of Alabama to declare a month long state of emergency in November, while recently in December of 2016, Belle Fourche Pipeline Company shut down its six-inch crude pipeline after oil leaked into Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County, western North Dakota, around 150 miles from Standing Rock,showing that these pipelines were not built to last and will eventually cause more harm.”
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Joseph also addressed the crisis in Flint, where a contaminated water supply has caused many residents in the primarily African American city to develop serious health problems. Little has been done to alleviate this grave situation.
“It’s extremely important to recognize when citizens–in this case, primarily black citizens–are being manipulated and suffering unjustly at the hands of their government,” Joseph said. “Flint is a shining example of “profit before people” in action, and it will be very important to see if those responsible for the tragedy will eventually be held properly accountable in the long and drawn out process of the American judicial system.”
The jury is still out regarding the amount of damage that’s been done to Flint residents. “From what I understand, decades of research have shown that exposure to even low levels of lead can profoundly affect children’s growth, behavior and intelligence over time,” Joseph said. “The damage has been done, and only time will tell how this tragedy will affect the children and families of Flint in the long run.”
Joseph feels that the harm being inflicted at Standing Rock is part of the USA’s long standing tradition of mistreatment towards Native Americans. “Consistently lied to, pushed around, used and abused, the Natives of this land have been treated as less than human by our government for centuries,” he said. “And now their non-violent demonstrations are being met head on with violence, when they are simply taking action to protect their sacred lands from being dishonored and their water source from being polluted.”
Like many, Joseph felt enraged by the situations in Flint and Standing Rock and decided to use his musical talents to help. “I put this benefit together to do something good at a time when humanity appears to be taking a very uncertain turn down a very dark road,” he said. “It’s important to remember that when large groups of people come together, it is a powerful thing that has the ability to make a positive impact on and affect positive change in our communities. I’ve come to believe over time that no one can accomplish something good on his or her own. So I put out some calls, and some good friends with great hearts responded in kind, more than happy to lend their talents and time to raise money for the communities of Flint, Michigan and Standing Rock, and to help raise awareness about the vital issue of keeping our water sources clean as we move into 2017.”
The Human Condition has a unique sound which is described by Joseph as “purplegrass”.
“Its acoustic folk music built on big vocal harmonies, then peppered with bluegrass and country influence,” Joseph said.
The Human Condition will be joined for Sunday evening’s concert by The Quiet Men and vocalist Kristina Bennett. “The Quiet Men are a lively, female fronted, 8 piece Irish/folk/rock band,” Joseph said. “Kristina Bennett is a local singer/songwriter and vocal instructor who will be opening the show with a full backup band. All three acts are local to San Francisco, and have been performing in the city for years.”
In addition to offering good music, Joseph will be reading what he describes as a plea for understanding from Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nation.
“100% of the artists’ cut of the door charge will be donated to raising awareness about the importance of keeping our water sources clean,” he said. “50% donation of funds raised will be donated to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund, used for legal, sanitary and emergency purposes. and another 50% donation of funds raised will be donated to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund via The Community Foundation of Greater Flint, used for the long term health and development needs of Flint children exposed to lead.”
Donations can also be made directly to the Community Foundation for Greater Flint and/or to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dakota Access Pipeline Donation Fund.
Silence, according to Joseph, is not an option. “To me, it seems as though the government tends to only take action on these kinds of issues when poked and prodded by the public to do so,” he said. “The slow and ambiguous responses by the federal government to these vital issues has been largely embarrassing.”
Tickets for A Benefit For Clean Water are now available.