Pearl Jam’s Continuous Kindness

by Kathy Davis on April 27, 2009

Pearl Jam, collectively and individually, constantly impress me as human beings.  Their easy compassion and the freedom with which the members of the band give time and money to causes they believe in is greatly inspiring.  Reading and hearing stories of what great, genuine people they are is such a treat; here are a few of the more recent examples of the guys making a difference.

Nice Guy Mike  Blogger Travis from the blog Life On The Left Coast recently posted a great story about meeting Mike McCready around the time the band were recording in Southern California earlier this year.  The meeting had a great impact on Travis, and here is his story:

The basics:  On the lot where I work is the old A&M Records.  It’s not under that name any longer, but it’s still a very active recording studio.  Incidentally, the lot is the old Charlie Chaplin lot and the recording studio is rumored to be the REAL Voodoo Lounge.  As in, the Rolling Stones album was named after the place.  So it has some major production and music history within its gates. 

 

I digress to  …Tuesday.  Seeing a bunch of desperate-looking young people chasing after a car as it came in through our gates (seemingly job-less autograph seekers), I decided to ask the guard who they’d been standing around to see for the last two days.  “Pearl Jam” was her answer.  Seeing the guy walk into the studio, I realized it’s lead guitarist and general artistic badass, Mike McCready.  Now, I’m a big PJ fan, but my brother Matt is the biggest fan I know.  So being the younger, a-hole of a brother that I am, I text him to rub the sighting in his face.  He responds in a much more mature fashion (per the norm) and tells me that McCready does a lot of work to raise awareness for The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.  This is huge as a very dear member of our family suffers from Crohn’s.  So I decide to thank Mr. McCready (and maybe even score an autograph for Matt, if I should be so lucky).  To keep from violating lot policy and approaching him (whilst keeping my job), I devise to put a letter on the car that drove him through the gates.  As a silent ode to Matt (an architect), I wrote it on graph paper.   The letter wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was heartfelt.  I thanked him for his work with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, wished him well in his own struggle with Crohn’s and finally thanked him for his art which has had a profound impact on both me and my brother.  Anyway, I wrote it, sneakily put it under the windshield wiper and left it at that.  Frankly, knowing he’s such a huge star (and possibly “so L.A.”), I figured it would end at that.

 

A few hours later, I got a call on my cell phone from one of my coworkers.  She said “Travis, Mike McCready is here and he’d like to speak with you.”  (Not something you hear everyday, right?)  Reading the letter, he literally walked around the lot and sought me out, finally finding her.  Now, this lot isn’t huge, but we don’t fly big flags saying where we work.  So this took some doing.  Meeting him outside, the first words from his mouth were “Thank you so much for the letter.  How’s your (family member)?”  From there, he shared with me his tribulations with Crohn’s and findings in new medications, etc., but was largely more interested in my family member’s health.  He wanted to know who gave her the best treatment,  what meds she’d tried, etc.  And his tone was so genuine that I thought I was talking to a guy I’d been friends with for years.  As we sort of wrapped up the conversation about five minutes later, he graciously wrote a note and an autograph for Matt.  When I told Mike we’d seen him/Pearl Jam in concert nine times (and more on Matt’s end), he looked up from signing the autograph and said “wow” – as if that was something he never hears.  Yeah.  Right.  They have one of the most loyal followings in music.  Regardless, he seemed so thankful that we had made his music part of our lives.  It was a pretty cool feeling, honestly.   It was even cooler to know that Mike McCready’s not only an amazing musician, he’s also an EXTREMELY nice and genuine guy.  It’s amazing how much your admiration grows when you know they’re real, cool and not “so L.A.”

For more information on The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, please go to www.ccfa.org

From Hollyweird,

-T & K-

 

Helping a Hawaiian Mom:  A Hawaiian woman named Christy Huddy was injured tragically in January of this year.   In February, “members of Pearl Jam” contributed signed memorabilia and money to the “I Heart Christy fund” to help raise funds for her recovery.

Christy was dropping off her son, 7-year-old son Kainalu, at tutoring; the boy hit his head when exiting the car and when Christy got out to help him, the car which had been facing down a steep hill started rolling – with her daughter 5-year-old Dylan strapped inside.  As Christy struggled to get control of the vehicle, the car ran her over and pinned her under the tire, causing  brain/neurological damage. Currently in Denver at a recovery facility, Christy is progressing well and walking in short spurts with assistance!   An excerpt from Christy Huddy’s Healing Journey blog is below. Click here to go to the blog to contribute/get updates on this courageous woman’s recovery. From the February 23rd blog entry:

Also, a huge thank you and aloha to the one and only PEARL JAM!  They are helping Christy out because they care that much!!  Missy’s (Christy’s long time friend) Mom is good friends with one of the members of Pearl Jam who has connections to Molokai.  Pearl Jam became involved because they wanted to help Christy out!  There will be a surfboard and a guitar signed by the members of the band & auctioned on their website to raise money for Christy’s medial bills!!  How incredible!  On top of this two members donated their own money to the iheartchristy fund.   You guys are solid gold!

We haven’t yet seen the auction take place, but these great signed items are sure to bring in some nice cash for the I Heart Christy fund. A fine gesture in any case!

Jazz Foundation of America:  In October of 2005, Pearl Jam played the House of Blues in Chicago to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  One of the benefactors of the concert was the Jazz Foundation of America. Where did that money go?  To help employ musicians displaced by the floods through their Jazz & Blues in the Schools program!  Here’s info from the JFA: 

For 20 years the JAZZ FOUNDATION OF AMERICA has been the first and only national organization that has quietly been saving the homes and lives of elder jazz and blues musicians in crisis. Since Katrina, they have rescued hundreds of New Orleans musician families, young and old-averaging 1600 cases a year.

EMPLOYMENT: Our Agnes Varis Jazz & Blues in the Schools Program was the first to create employment for New Orleans musicians after the flood. With over two million dollars in funding, over 1,000 musicians have been employed since Katrina. (Special thanks to our “Saint Agnes” Varis, with a little help from Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the band Pearl Jam.)

It’s nice to see the specifics of Pearl Jam’s fundraising efforts in action. They’ve never been a band to just throw money at something.

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.

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