The 4th Annual ROCK MS Seattle Benefit – A “Grungelovers” Theme Brings in Big Bucks!

The 4th annual ROCK MS Seattle fundraiser on May 12, 2018, was held at one of the best-loved venues that hold many memories; The CrocodileTaryn Daly was our MC for the evening, accompanied by Thee Ted Smith, both DJ’s from Seattle’s Best Rock KISW. A radio station that has supported the Seattle music scene for many years and one I have listened to for over 30.

This year Dave Bevan (event coordinator for ROCK MS Seattle) asked us to cover the event and we were happy to oblige. What was thought would be an assignment, ended up with us sponsoring the majority of the prizes. I dug into my extensive grunge era collection and decided to give a good chunk of it to this very important fundraiser.  I ended up giving posters, CD singles/promo’s, vinyl promo’s, framed pictures and posters, books and even press releases which also included the press photos too.  The best one was a framed signed photo of Alice in Chains by famed rock photographer Marty Temme (with COA – photo below). This event turned into a “grungelovers” fiesta, from the prizes to the music. A perfect combination for a successful evening.

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Original 11×14 (frame is 15×18″ Alice in Chains print signed by Marty Temme – famous Rock Photographer. This came with a COA also.

Dave Jimenez of Jimenez Productions was there to film the entire show. Dave Bevan wanted nothing but the very best for this fundraiser and did everything to ensure the night went very smooth. The nice thing with events such as these, you can always count on seeing your friends there so you’re never alone. I also should say that the staff at The Crocodile were nothing but fantastic. The only thing I wish would change would be for The Crocodile to get a new air conditioning unit. It is ALWAYS hot in that venue.

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The night started out a little slow with people showing up at the venue. However, to be fair, there were a lot of great shows also scheduled this night. The first band to perform was Wicked Garden (Stone Temple Pilots Tribute Band). Troy Aylesworth has the looks and the moves to pull off the late Scott Weiland’s stage antics. It’s my firm belief that this band will gain a lot more attention this year. By 2019, Wicked Garden, will have a very large fan base of their own.

Within 30 minutes of Wicked Garden performing, the venue just filled up, almost instantly. My mind was doing a “happy dance” because I knew we would have a very eventful evening. After Wicked Garden was done with their set, Dave Bevan (also the bass player for the band), took to making rounds and welcoming the show-goers. We had volunteers there to watch the long table we had set up by the back bar with several of the auction items. We also sold raffle tickets too. During the breaks between bands, Taryn and Ted (KISW) would announce the winners.

Next up to the stage was Washed in Black (Pearl Jam Tribute Band). All I can say about their performance; they ROCKED! I have been to several of their shows over the years, and other than the Layne Staley Tribute 2016, this event they were on FIRE. By all means, these guys always bring their”A” game, but this night they brought it and then some. Many people mentioned this to me during and after the event. Look for a full article from myself and Dan Nunn (Washed in Black) later this year, on this band in depth.

While Washed in Black was performing, I was approached by a nice guy inquiring about the Alice in Chains framed photo that was up for auction (see picture added above). He basically said that he had to have that for his wife and asked me how much it would cost for him to win the auction. I kept trying to tell him that he needed to bid on it. But after several times of him approaching me and asking me about it, I discussed it with Dave to see what kind of price would be appropriate. Let’s just say he and his wife left very happy that night! If they happen to read this article, please message our Facebook page and say “hello” or comment below.

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The final performance was Allison Chains (All Female Alice in Chains Tribute Band). These ladies came all the way up from Los Angeles for this show (and one other). Now if anyone knows me at all, I am the biggest Alice in Chains fan there is (especially Layne Staley). I was not expecting to be blown away by a group of all females to do any Alice in Chains song justice…….but I was so WRONG. These ladies were top-notch-true professionals. They are in sync with one another, like a watch is to its second hand. If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area, you need to see these gals.

I was able to sit down with Dave before and after the event to talk with him about the Rock MS Seattle fundraiser; here’s a segment of it;

NS:  Why did you start the Rock MS Seattle fundraising events 4 years ago? And please briefly tell us about the 1st event.

DB:  It started back in April of 2015 while I was planning a backyard BBQ with my cover band Megabox. It was just going to be a casual gathering of a few close friends and an excuse to play some music. I have a very close friend named DB who has MS as well as another friend who is a drummer in an original band. Thinking of both of them, my wife Jennie had the idea to turn the event into a fundraiser for MS and at that point, Rock MS was born. The first year I had a few different bands interested, but scheduling didn’t work out so I formed a new band called Thicker Than Water which was the same lineup as Wicked Garden except Troy’s brother Todd was our original drummer until he moved back to Utah the following year. So both Megabox and Thicker Than Water played, we had about 70 people attend, I made Hawaiian shaved ice, my wife did face painting for the kids and we raised around $1600. The following year we had it on a Sunday afternoon at the Hard Rock Cafe and the year after that we got a Saturday night slot at the Hard Rock. Each time we were able to double the amount of money raised from the previous year.

NS:  Why did you choose this particular MS entity for the donations?

DB:  We chose the National MS Society the first year of the event because it is a great organization and it funds research on the national level but also provides support for people in our local community with MS. They reached out to me the first year we sent in the donations and have been working with me ever since. Last year I was asked to present the work I have been doing to the local chapter Board of Trustees and this year I got a lot of support from The Movement Project which is a junior board formed by the local chapter to engage a younger demographic to get involved in fundraising for the National MS Society. The NMSS also has a great DIY fundraising program that is built into their site and helps groups to fundraise in the same way they would for a Bike MS or Walk MS event. Usually, about half of our donations are raised through that site.

NS:  How did you feel about this yearʼs event held at the famed Crocodile?

DB:  I love the Crocodile so I was really excited to be able to host Rock MS there this year. There were several things that came together for this actually. We played a show there last April, a couple nights before Rock MS 2017 actually, and we were supposed to open up for Allison Chains as part of a mini-Northwest tour they were doing. Their tour ended up getting canceled, through no fault of the band or venue, so even though we still played, we were sad to not play with them at that historic venue. So when I got around to looking for venues for Rock MS 2018 and I saw that the Crocodile was available around the date I wanted, I immediately reached out to Allison Chains to see what it would take to get them up here from LA to headline. They were really excited about the opportunity and especially because of their personal connections to MS, they went out of their way to make it happen and I’m so glad they did. We also had a personal connection with Washed in Black because Troy was able to fill in as lead singer for Steve McKeever for about 6 months while he recovered from a vocal injury.

NS:  What did you think of all the bands that played? Were you happy with the turnout?

DB:  I couldn’t have been happier with the bands that played. Really, for all of the Rock MS events I’ve been thrilled at the bands that have participated and how much they have contributed to raising money for this great cause. Having these 90’s rock tributes playing in one of the most iconic 90’s venues around was just incredible.

NS:  Out of all the donations received, can you tell us who the largest one was from?

DB:  The largest monetary donation came from SHW which is an event coordinating company in Seattle and Rita Mills was our advocate there. She is on the Board of Trustees for NMSS and when I presented Rock MS to the board last year she really jumped in and helped out in many ways. The largest impact of donations though came from NeHi Stripes. The amount of music, art, collectibles, and 90’s Seattle rock memorabilia that was donated was staggering. They donated thousands of dollars worth of prizes that went to both the raffle and silent auction. This was the first year we did a silent auction and it was a huge success thanks to all the donations from NeHi Stripes.

NS:  How much was raised this year? And who will benefit from the donations?

DB:  This year we raised a little over $8,000 which brings our grand total to around $20,000. The three previous years we were able to run the event completely on donations so this was the first time we had any operating expenses. Even though we had some costs to cover, we were still able to significantly increase our fundraising and had a bigger event overall. All of the proceeds go to the National MS Society – Greater Northwest Chapter.

Dave Bevan and Troy Aylesworth Rock MS Benefit at The Crocodile in Seattle WA, 12 May 2018. Photo by Kurt Clark / Nehi Stripes Musiczine / kurtclark.us

I also talked to Troy Aylesworth, who just happens to be Dave’s best friend and has helped Dave with the fundraisers since it’s inception. Here’s Troy’s overview of this year’s fundraiser.

“This being our fourth year of both producing and playing at the event, this was, by far the best yet. From the venue to the crowd, to the lineup, and, of course, the money that was raised for the National MS Society, Rock MS 2018 set a new standard for us. As you know, we started in Dave’s backyard the first year. It was both an opportunity for our fledgling band (Thicker Than Water) to play live and a great way to raise and give back to an organization that supports some of our friends and family. When the second year came around, we just assumed we’d started an annual event. Dave put together a venue in Seattle and we invited a couple of other bands to play with us. The third year, Dave set us up at the same downtown venue with bands we knew well. We also decided to start looking for sponsors and donors. We had a surprising amount of success AND, thanks to Dave’s resourcefulness we got support from Taryn Daly at KISW. Next thing we know, we were being sponsored by KISW and had donations from several businesses around the Seattle area. This year, based on previous years’ success, we decided to raise our game and move the event to the iconic Crocodile. As part of our intent to increase recognition of Rock MS as a viable brand to raise money, we agreed to ask local band Washed in Black (A Tribute to Pearl Jam) and Allison Chains (The World’s Only All Female Tribute to Alice In Chains) to be on the bill. We’d also recently re-launched ourselves as Wicked Garden (The Stone Temple Pilots Experience). We had a top-tier lineup and one of the most iconic venues in Seattle! Then, with the help of KISW, our continued sponsors and several new ones, and invaluable raffle plus auction items from NeHi Stripes editor and owner Cindy Cavins, we pulled off landslide growth for the event. Every year, I have been honored to play with such talented musicians. I feel like I am part of a community of friends. They’re incredible people too; it’s not just the music. I’m surrounded by engineers, business owners, educators, attorneys, IT Directors, professional musicians, radio personalities, and various other professions; and lots of them with families. Everyone is ready and willing to share their talents and make an impact in the local area. Rock MS brought together top-tier tribute bands all full of people who want to make a difference in the world. I am proud to be a part of it.”

Thank you to the following sponsors for their generous donations and participation this year:

SHW
NeHi Stripes Musiczine Seattle
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Mike Lull Custom Guitars
The Guitar Store
The Movement Project
The Palladian Hotel
Marco Collins & Karen Mason-Blair
JT Phillips-Quigley Productions
KISW
Washed in Black
Kurt Clark
Woodland Pub
David De Sola
Brook Yool
Dave Jimenez of Jimenez Productions
Erin James
Salon Euphoria
Erik Jurado

My final thoughts; I’m overwhelmed with the outpouring of support we received from the Seattle community who came to this event. The commitment shown by Dave to continue on each year with the help of his best friend and bandmate Troy is a lesson in humanity that we all can learn from. To give back, support and take on this fundraiser each year is nothing less than heroic. We are all affected by MS. We either have a family member or a friend who has been diagnosed with it. Personally, I have 2 friends that are affected by it (that I am aware of). My friend Sean from high school was stricken with it in the early 2000’s and it has affected him and his family greatly. MS hit him fast and hard. My dear friend Nina is a contributing writer for us and lives in London. Her mom has MS too. Therefore participating in this became a  personal agenda for me. This yearly fundraiser can make a big difference. Kurt Clark our photographer and I will be back next year to help even more than this year. NeHi Stripes will also be a sponsor again. I’m looking forward to out-doing, out-performing and making better goals each year and continue to help pack those venues and raise some big bucks for ROCK MS Seattle.

Video provided by Dave Jimenez of Jimenez Productions, and photography provided by our own Kurt Clark of NeHi Stripes Musiczine Seattle.

Thanks to all the band members who performed. They always bring their “A” game.

**Thanks to the volunteers that helped out at the event. If we missed anyone that sponsored, we apologize.

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