Arts & Entertainment, Features

In honor of ’27 Club’, Berklee hosts night of sexy, drug-free rock n’ roll

Multiple artists performed in the 27 Club Memorial Concert at the Berklee Performance Center Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLA HANLEY
Multiple artists performed in the 27 Club Memorial Concert at the Berklee Performance Center Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY OF DARLA HANLEY

Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band and Barry Goudreau of the band Boston are picking the strings of their guitars fluidly and skillfully as Megadeth’s bassist, David Ellefson strums the familiar chords of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.” The rock icons are bathed in purple, but there is no trace of the thick haze that usually hangs over rock concerts.

On Saturday night, rock icons from across the globe joined forces at the Berklee Performance Center to play an eclectic selection of rock music to the sold-out 1,215-seat theater for the 27 Club Memorial Concert.

The concert was an homage to the “27 Club,” a group of musicians, including Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and Jim Morrison who all died at 27 for reasons related to substance abuse. The show raised money for Right Turn, a Boston-based rehabilitation facility aimed at spreading the idea that great music can and should come from sober artists.

The concert was “designed to highlight positive lifestyle choices, the health and wellness of artists of all ages and great rock music,” said Darla Hanley, Berklee College of Music’s dean of professional education. Hanley was the co-chair of the concert’s planning committee.

Saturday served as the ninth time that Right Turn has assembled such a “supergroup” for a benefit concert. Right Turn, founded in 2003 by former Del Fuegos drummer Woody Giessmann, offers clinical and intervention services, as well as therapies rooted in creativity — art and music therapy, journaling and yoga. It also has an intensive outpatient program and an extended care housing program.

This year, Right Turn partnered with Berklee as part of an initiative to educate music students about the danger of substance abuse and addiction.

“Woody and I sat in a conference room and put together the supergroup,” Hanley said. “It’s amazing to see these rock icons come together for this cause, and it’s awesome to hang out with these guys.”

The partnership between Right Turn and Berklee was regarded as a perfect match for many involved.

“There couldn’t be a better marriage of the two,” said Gary Hoey, the show’s music director. “The students of today are the rock stars of tomorrow.”

In an effort to better educate the Berklee community, Hanley expanded the concert by hosting a series of lectures and panels featuring members of the supergroup in what she calls Berklee’s Right Turn.

The series began on Wednesday with a lecture from Giessmann, official Woodstock photographer Henry Diltz and Goudreau, the former Boston guitarist. The men talked candidly about the sometimes unsavory environment and culture that music can come from.

Other speakers included Ellefson, who gave a lecture about his experiences with addiction entitled “My Life with Deth,” also the name of his autobiography.

“Berklee is offering its students a real helping hand. In the music community, it’s so easy to fall into darkness, but I really want to spread the good and positive of music … Addiction is such a dark killer because it wants to get you alone, but music brings people together,” Ellefson said. “Students need to be aware of these problems when they are thrust into the community.”

Ellefson’s experiences aligned with Hanley’s intentions for the project. Hanley and other members of the Berklee community didn’t want to make the issues of addiction and substance abuse a mystery to the students. They hoped to erase the stigma and embarrassment associated with addiction so individuals who may be struggling will feel more inclined to seek help.

“It’s good for students to hear about the difficult experiences musicians have faced while working in the industry.” Hanley said.

The significance of Right Turn’s presence on Berklee’s campus seemed to make an impression on students. Several Berklee students joined the rock icons on stage and many were quick to speak to the importance of the event and the work conducted at Right Turn.

“This experience is more than I could ask for. I know a lot of people who would kill to be at a place like Right Turn,” said Dylan Furst, one of the student performers. “Having the opportunity to support them is a dream come true.”

Starpower aside, the three-hour concert continuously reminded the audience why they were there. The music featured covers of songs made famous by members of the 27 Club. Performances included “You Know I’m No Good” by Winehouse, “Light My Fire” by Morrison and The Doors, “Piece of my Heart” by Joplin and “All Apologies” by Cobain and Nirvana.

“We are here to honor those who weren’t able to make it through,” Ellefson said. “Most of us performing have walked a mile in their shoes, and we all have the same end goal in mind.”

More Articles

Comments are closed.