Building on the 86 emergency grants we distributed in April, the JWF is opening another round of financial assistance for working musicians impacted by performance cancellations due to the coronavirus May 25th thru May 29th. If we can grow our COVID-19 Oregon Musicians’ Relief Fund from $62,000 to $75,000 by May 30th, we’ll be able to help 60 more musicians and music industry workers in Oregon and SW Washington. Every dollar you donate to our GoFundMe campaign goes directly to these special grants.
“In good times, and bad, there has always been a strong sense of support within Portland’s music community,” said Jack Mortensen, the bass player and producer who brought together 30 musicians to raise funds for the JWF through a “socially distant” performance of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” We couldn’t agree more: the generosity of JWF supporters truly makes music happen. Thank you for all you’ve helped us do so far — and for giving what you can as we respond to these unprecedented times once more.
The JWF is deeply grateful to the community of music lovers who banded together to contribute to our special COVID-19 Oregon Musicians’ Relief Fund! Thanks to their generosity, we were able to distribute $43,000 in emergency financial assistance among 86 local artists and music industry workers impacted by canceled performances due to the global pandemic during the month of April.
Between March 14 and April 22, more than 500 individuals and small businesses (like Koll Guitars and Misplaced Screen Printing) donated to this special fund — either through the JWF’s GoFundMe campaign, our Facebook fundraiser, or directly via mailed-in check or this website. Their support allowed us to offer grants to eligible applicants across all levels of the music industry, including singer-songwriters, classical pianists, nationally touring bands, and sound engineers.
The music community also banded together to raise awareness of the JWF’s work in its own unique way. Bass player and producer Jack Mortensen brought together more than 30 local musicians to remotely record a performance of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that garnered local and national media attention and inspired thousands of dollars in donations to the fund. Online concerts and special offers from rock violinist Aaron Meyer, performer Sydney Nash, musician and artist Janet Julian, the Alberta Rose Theatre, and others all provided invaluable support. Recently, Chris Funk of the Decemberists announced that all profits from Bandcamp sales of his new album The Painted Porch would be donated to the JWF’s COVID-19 Oregon Musicians’ Relief Fund.
“I first learned about the Jeremy Wilson Foundation two and a half years ago, when I broke my ankle, right before Christmas,” said Nash. “The JWF not only provided material support for me to pay my rent and bills when I was on crutches and couldn’t play gigs or do side work of any kind, but way more importantly, they helped me with the applications to get on the Oregon Health Plan. The positivity that has grown from the seed of help that the JWF planted in my life has bloomed into an entirely different existence than I ever thought possible. I am so grateful for the help that they showed me that I was eager to return the favor so that they could be there for other musicians like me down the line who can benefit from this kind of support. It is truly, no hyperbole, life changing.”
In addition to financial assistance, the JWF offers volunteer social work services to local musicians, ensuring they can successfully navigate the healthcare system and qualify for available government benefits. The organization has also compiled a list of additional support made possible by state and federal relief organizations, which can be accessed at https://thejwf.org/resources/.
Understanding that the global crisis will continue to impact the financial stability of working musicians and music industry professionals, the JWF is evaluating fundraising efforts and how we can best support our music community at this time. We’ll provide updates here as soon as our next step is in place, but we anticipate opening a second application cycle for another round of assistance in the near future. Donors interested in supporting this work can contribute directly to the JWF’s emergency assistance fund through its GoFundMe campaign. Donations can also be made through checks made out to the Jeremy Wilson Foundation (memo: COVID-19 Oregon Musicians’ Relief Fund) and sent to The Jeremy Wilson Foundation, 1028 SE Water Ave, Ste 230, Portland, Ore. 97214.
Once again, we want to thank our incredible musical community for its generosity as we continue to respond to these unprecedented times — and for supporting those who make the soundtrack of our lives.
Kate O’Brien leads the string section of All Things Must Pass
By Claire Levine
Kate O’Brien was in high school when she first heard George
Harrison’s masterpiece, All Things Must Pass.
When she started listening to the songs in preparation for the Feb. 1
show of the same name at Revolution Hall, she realized, “These songs are in my
bones,” and in the bones of most Americans of her generation.
“I was so honored when (producer) Mark Bowden invited me to pull
together the string section,” Kate said. While she had always related to the
music, she realized that she’s always listened as a fan, not as a violinist. So
the task of learning and coordinating the string accompaniment presented both a
challenge and a joyous opportunity to learn the music from an entirely
One of the things that attracted Mark to the All Things Must Pass
album was Phil Spector’s “wall of sound.” The show’s poster touts that the show
will be “in all its Phil Spector glory.” That means a lot of musicians (more
than 30) and a whole bunch of instruments. Kate said all the musicians are
spending a lot of time listening to the original recording to best recreate the
full measure of the music.
“I imagine the strings and the horns as creating a layer of
woodchips on the floor of a playground,” forming a flexible basis to support
the lead instruments and vocals. “Every once in a while the sound of a horn or
a violin will rise up,” and catch everyone’s attention, but for the most part
the instruments are a beautifully integrated texture of tones, Kate said.
Kate is a classically trained violinist who established and runs
String Academy. She has been gigging with a wide
variety of bands for nearly 20 years, and recently ventured out as a
singer-songwriter. She also currently plays and sings with the Gerle
For several years, Kate has performed in The
Next Waltz productions – the annual recreation of The Band’s last performance
(proceeds of which also support the JWF Musicians’ Emergency Healthcare Fund).
This production draws on an already close-knit musical community, and many
performers come back year after year.
“It’s like a big musical family, with an annual reunion of people you love.”
The 2019 show greatly expanded that family, with the addition of new
performers, including several young women of color. These musicians added vitality to what is
already a high-energy production.
Everyone rose to the moment and “made each song
their own,” in Kate’s words, while respecting the nearly iconic performances
we’ve been listening to on the film and albums for more than 40 years.
All Things Must Pass also benefits from the diversity of talent
available in Portland and the concert will feature many women and a diverse
group of performers. When Kate was asked
to assemble a string section, she thought of four of the most talented people
she knew – all of whom happened to be female.
Kate said it’s a pleasure to watch Mark pull this event together, adding vision while guiding more than 30 musicians “who really work at being musicians.” She, like Mark, is excited for what she hopes is the first of many annual tributes to George Harrison.
The 1970 album All Things Must Pass is as big and all-encompassing as George Harrison’s life and spirituality: it embraces everything. Hailed as George’s liberation from the shadow of the Beatles, it is at once joyous, sad, regretful and optimistic.
Fifty years later, we still have a terrific
amount to glean from Harrison’s music. So Mark Bowden — musician, composer,
producer, promoter and lover of big sounds — is commemorating the album’s
release with a 30-plus-musician show on Feb. 1 at Revolution Hall. He is
modeling the show after Concert for George, the stunning tribute
to George’s life and music put on by Eric Clapton and friends.
A portion of the proceeds will support the
Musicians’ Emergency Health Care Fund.
“I have always loved All Things Must Pass,”
Mark said, “It has the magic of the Beatles,” that neither Lennon nor McCartney could capture after the band broke up.
Mark said, “I love that Phil Spector ‘Wall of Sound.’ You can’t recreate that
with five or 10 musicians, That’s why I’m bringing all those musicians
together. I want the power of that performance to hit you hard and knock you over!”
Mark also wants this production to represent
Portland’s tremendous talent pool. That means lots more women than performed at
the Concert for George. For example, Anita Elliot will play the pedal
steel and Kate O’Brien will lead the all-female string section. Little Sue, a
recent addition to the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, signed up early on.
In fact, Mark said, “Every single musician I’ve
talked to has said, ‘Are you kidding me? I absolutely want to be there.’”
“Some people go to silent retreats; some people
climb mountains. People seek out experiences to find the truth within
themselves. For me, music has always been a religious experience. The stage is
a sacred space to be taken seriously,” Mark said.
“This is my Wailing
Wall, my Vatican City, My Hindu Temple.”
For Mark, All Things Must Pass is a labor of love, not a money maker. He didn’t want something this important to stop at the walls of the concert hall. So, a portion of all ticket sales will help musicians who need financial help during a time of a medical crisis through the Musicians’ Emergency Medical Fund. To learn more about All Things Must Pass at Revolution Hall, follow Mark at https://twitter.com/SonicbutterPDX and https://www.instagram.com/mbcaster/.