Faces of the Arts: Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians So Your Local Musicians Don’t Skip a Beat
Dec 04, 2015 02:38PM
● By Melissa Lauren
Tim Atkinson and Sean Ward performed an original tune, “Live Life” at the AMFM “In the Vane of… Johnny Cash” show.
Meet this dynamic local organization in the next installment of our "Faces of the Arts" article seriesBy Melissa Lauren // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.
A local musician stands at the mic with his Fender acoustic guitar strapped to his body like a shield. The stage is dark and he is dressed in black along with his band members, playing an electric Telecaster and a Martin Resonator. The spotlight shines on him as he says to the crowd in his best Johnny Cash impression, “Hello, I’m Tim Atkinson.” He performs “Get Rhythm” by Cash. Atkinson’s voice is as round as a barrel of whiskey. It is strong with a bite and a growl. He then goes on to sing an original tune called, “Live Life.” Atkinson opened the “In the Vane of…Johnny Cash” show, presented by Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians, this past July. Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians (AMFM) is a local nonprofit that helps the local music community live life by providing funds to local musicians to help supplement missed income due to illness, a cancelled gig by club owner(s), or a catastrophe.
Atkinson is one such musician who benefited from the AMFM Lost Gig Fund. He has a professional day job as a Court Reporter in Washington, D.C. and is on the road around the region recording legal hearings and taking notes. He creates musical notes and recordings in his off time and performs around town at local pubs. He has a family to support and is happy that he can earn money for his kids’ college tuitions by gigging around this town. Annapolis has a deep history of music and an enormous wealth of extremely talented musicians. AMFM paid out $150 a gig for more than a dozen gigs that were missed when Atkinson was sick this past year. The relief AMFM provided helped protect the financial security of his family.
Atkinson’s situation is an example of why local musician Matt McConville and several friends started Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians. Creating the nonprofit was motivated by several earlier incidents involving members of the Annapolis music community. Fulltime local folk singer/songwriter musician Mary Byrd Brown discovered she had late stage Lyme disease leaving her unable to perform and pay her bills.
“Another musician had his apartment burn down and another person had a heart attack so we just said okay let’s get some money together [by organizing] big benefits,” McConville stated. Martha Jacobs C.P.A. was instrumental in setting up AMFM as a 501(c)(3). They decided it would be more effective to formally start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to bank funds for musicians, which would be donated as needed during a catastrophe versus fundraising for a specific individual after a need arises. In this way, the relief would be available immediately. AMFM’s catastrophic fund has helped musicians with amputations, spliced kidneys, injured fingers, and the flu, among other ailments. McConville explains the catastrophic fund, “It allows them to pay their bills and convalesce. Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians gave away $45,000 last year. These musicians keep the real rich tradition of music in Annapolis alive and we need to take care of them.”
David Glaser is a longtime musician that plays in the Annapolis area, tours around the region, and has even performed at folk festivals around the United States. He has been heralded “the Prince of Annapolis” by local music star, Dean Rosenthal. Even deep in the music town of Austin, Texas, he is well-known. During a stay in Austin for a music festival, my hostess, herself an established local folk musician, perked up when she learned I was from Annapolis and immediately asked, “Do you know David Glaser? He was on the bill at a recent folk festival I played and he is a great musician!”
Glaser was helped by AMFM this past July. He could not work for a month while he recovered from Hernia surgery. “Without their help I honestly don’t know how I could have kept a roof over my head,” Glaser stated.
AMFM also has a lost gig fund. Sometimes club owners double book bands or decide they need to cancel a performance. Through no fault of their own, a local musician could show up expecting $100 or $200 for their gig and are suddenly out of that money. AMFM gives as much as $150 for a lost gig and local musicians can apply online for consideration at AM-FM.org. To qualify for the AMFM Lost Gig Fund a musician must play at least 12 times in a calendar year in Annapolis within the zip codes listed at AM-FM.org. Brian Cahalan, board member of AMFM and owner of 49 West Coffeehouse, Winebar, & Gallery, hosts many musicians at his café in the private listening room, even regional and national acts. He underlines the significance of the Lost Gig Fund. “It’s shocking to many people but club owners will double book and then someone doesn’t get paid. I book music seven nights a week and I think in the past 19 years I’ve signed three contracts for out of town bands. Contracts [with local artists] are verbal contracts. It is a touchy situation but it is really sad that so many owners take advantage of the fact that musicians don’t have a written contract. It’s a shame because we should be treasuring our musicians and artistic community.”
That is AMFM’s mission; to treasure and support the local music scene while helping to foster the up and coming vibrant young talent in the area. The third area of funding is the Education Fund, given wholly to another 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has a mission of music education. In past years, it has been awarded to Rob Levit’s organization, Creating Communities. Any nonprofit can apply for the grant, as long as it has a focus of music education.
Cahalan states, “We always need donations because the more people that know about [AMFM] the more money we need. Based on what happens and the needs of the community, it could wipe out the funds.” AMFM is always accepting volunteer assistance and donations. The goal is to grow community outreach and raise $60,000–80,000 next year. AMFM invites nonprofits and all members of the music community to visit their website AM-FM.org so they can learn about their options: applying for education grants, the lost gig fund, catastrophic fund, and the Tim King Scholarship Fund.
The Tim King Scholarship Fund is named for a longtime musician/actor/writer in town who passed away a few years ago. The fund currently underwrites private music lessons for students. AMFM has given funds to students at the Performing and Visual Arts Magnet School, Wiley H. Bates Middle School. Cahalan stresses the value, “their teacher knows they could be a prodigy but they can’t afford private lessons. Music saves those kids!”
McConville says excitedly, “The cool thing about it, is it goes across the board for all instruments. We’ve even given money for tuba lessons! We would like to be able to spread the private lessons out to more schools. We want to give a college scholarship to someone who is going on to higher education to study music at a music conservatory. Something like $3,000. The funding is a lightning rod for the community. I think it is a very significant thing because at that age, during middle school, for a young musician…it is such a transformative time. They could go one of two ways and igniting that passion is important.”
For nearly 10 years, AMFM has been helping musicians so they don’t skip a beat. The organization hosts very popular benefit concerts, such as the AMFM Christmas Show at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, every year. This year’s Christmas Show will be held Monday, December 7th and Tuesday, December 8th. You can anticipate seeing your favorite local musicians there donating their talent. Tickets are available at RamsHeadOnstage.com. You are sure to see some of the performers from “In the Vane of…Johnny Cash.”
The “In the Vane of…” concert series was AMFM board member Sean O’Neil’s genius idea. O’Neil serves as President of the Annapolis Partnership and is a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management, in addition to being a music aficionado. “In the Vane of…Tom Petty” and “In the Vane of…Led Zeppelin” were the first two concerts in the series. Local artists play a cover song by the theme artist and one of their originals inspired by the named artist.
The next “In the Vane of…” concert theme is always voted on by the public. Visit AMFM’s Facebook page so you can vote and learn more about our local music community. Our local musicians work in concert with proprietors to drive business to their doors, which grows our local economy. They entertains us, as well as out-of-towners. These musicians inspire the next generation of flourishing talent and make Annapolis sound so good!
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