Amidst the opioid crisis in a world where music and the arts continue to disappear from American classrooms, Face The Music Foundation and Recovery Unplugged place a premium on music as a critical part of the recovery process.
“These type of events remind us of how much energy and passion can be galvanized by something as unifying as music,” said Face The Music Foundation Executive Director Jeff Jacob Monday night in Chicago backstage at the Riviera Theatre prior to the Face The Music Foundation benefit concert. “Music is one of the only universal languages. So we believe that it not only brings people together but that it has healing properties. There’s proof to show that music can actually put someone on a positive path and help them sort of put a new foundation under them of solid ground.”
Founded in 2014, as the non-profit arm of Recovery Unplugged, the Foundation seeks to generate the resources necessary to help those who might otherwise not be able to afford to enter substance abuse treatment by creating treatment scholarships.
Recovery Unplugged takes things further, directly integrating music into the recovery process, with a stated mission “to provide hope and healing for individuals affected by addiction using the power of music.”
“It’s rare still that type of therapy. But I think it’s one of the best types of therapy that people can go through,” said producer and Garbage drummer Butch Vig. “I’ve been playing music all my life and it’s therapy for me. I think it’s a pretty incredible program where music is part of the recovery process.”
Monday night in Chicago, Vig performed with Garbage as the benefit’s headlining act, working with dkmedia and Charity Bomb alongside openers Slow Mass and Jam Alker Band to raise awareness and funds for both charitable groups.
“I myself am a recovering addict. Five years ago, I was killing myself shooting heroin on the west side of Chicago. Now I’m part of an event that is raising money to get people into treatment that is music based,” said Jam Alker. “I started playing music again when I was in treatment just over four and a half years ago and it changed my life. I began to heal some of the deepest wounds inside of me by using music as a way to express and process the underlying trauma that had led to my addiction. It’s something that’s been a passion of mine and so I got involved with Face the Music Foundation.”
Garbage’s touring bass player, former Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery, is also a recovering addict. Like many musicians, Garbage see the impact the disease can have on a daily basis.
“I hope that the event can bring awareness and bring an acute sense of urgency to absolutely every single one of the attendees. Because we all know that we are less than one degree away from someone with an invisible disease,” said event director, dkmedia principal and owner David Kinsler. “It’s indisputable: Music creates emotion. It evokes. And that’s what it was always meant to do.”
Richard Patrick of industrial alternative rockers Filter made a special opening appearance Monday night as well, singing one of Filter’s biggest hits, “Take a Picture,” with backing from Chicago-based Jam Alker Band.
Back to work with Filter co-founding member Brian Liesegang for the first time in more than twenty years on the forthcoming album Rebus, Patrick spoke candidly before the show about the role music can play in the recovery process.
“When you hear the perfect kind of music for the mood you’re in, it can bring pleasure, happiness, anger and exhilaration that only a few things can. So I think it’s important to have music in recovery,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s also important just to even hear this is an actual possibility that you can get sober and you can be happy.”
Monday night over the course of about ninety minutes, Garbage hit upon virtually every corner of their recorded catalog, placing most focus on their 1998 album Version 2.0 following a tour last year which featured full performances of the album in recognition of it’s 20th anniversary.
The group worked a snippet of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” into “Wicked Ways” early and vocalist Shirley Manson gave the fans a choice later, letting them decide by show of applause whether the band would close the show with “Bleed Like Me” or “When I Grow Up.” “It pleases me to f-ck with my band,” said the vocalist of her process as the crowd roared its approval for the latter.
“Sometimes you hear about bands that say they want to change the world with their music. And there is some truth to that. Because a song can affect someone’s personal life in a way that is way beyond what the artist intended,” said Vig. “When we make music, we record and write and go through the whole process kind of in a bubble. We do it for ourselves as our own form of therapy. And when you put music into the world, how it affects people, you never know really what’s going to happen. But it’s very gratifying to hear that kind of connection with people – that the music has a healing power.”
Manson went onto decry the lack of a union for musicians on stage Monday in Chicago, ultimately praising the work of groups like Recovery Unplugged and Face The Music Foundation. For his part, during turbulent times in America, Vig sees real value in the role of the musician.
“I think the most important thing that an artist can do, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, is get people to think,” he said. “I don’t think any music fan wants to get hit over the head with slogans or be told what to do. But a great song can reach out to you on an emotional level, or even a sociopolitical level, and make you think about the world that we live in.”
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “In 2016, an estimated twenty-one million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment,” translating to nearly 1 in 13 people. As the opioid crisis continues in America, the work of groups like Face The Music Foundationand Recovery Unplugged is more important than ever.
Raising awareness of the fact that recovery is even a real possibility is crucial to Richard Patrick.
“It’s a disease. I never wanted it. I woke up and I was way in – really deep into addiction. And now I’m a healthy, contributing member of society that can help other people. And that’s the best part of it – helping other people,” Patrick said. “I get all these people who say, ‘Is this real? Can I really get sober?’ Well I did it. And I can only speak for myself but if you can believe in yourself just a little bit, you can do it. I’m just spreading the message that you can get sober. Literally you can save people’s lives just by being a good example.”
Jim Ryan is a Chicago based writer/broadcaster who’s interviewed a Ramone and a Rolling Stone. Follow him on Twitter @RadioJimRyan or visit online at radiojimryan.com. email@example.com.
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