Feeling Alright: A Health Fair and Unity Concert Comes to The Met

I called Don Culp expecting only to get some background info about “Feeling Alright: A Health Fair and Unity Concert,” slated for June 11 at Hope Artiste Village and The Met. By the end of the conversation I was so pumped about this event I had to call everyone I know.

Don and Russell Gusetti (a founding member of Pendragon) are co-chairs of Tune in and Tune Up (TI&TU), the new healthcare initiative of the RI Music Hall of Fame. The idea for TI&TU came from a long-time dream of Don’s: to blend health and wellness into the fabric of the musical community that he was part of. That dream grew into a reality when RI Music Hall of Fame (RIMHOF) board members, many of whom are musicians themselves, joined forces. It became their mission to bring healthcare options and preventative awareness to Rhode Island’s musicians and artists, a notoriously underserved community.

Don Culp learned the hard way that rock ‘n’ roll may never die, but the musicians who give their lives to it are mortal. Endless gigs on the road, sleep deprivation and club life wore out his body faster than he’d have liked. At 55, he faced hip deterioration, exacerbated from years of martial arts and drumming. Without medical intervention, it could have been the end of his career. “When you’re young, you think you’re bulletproof,” he said. And in terms of sheer — though fleeting– resilience, that’s true. What young musicians don’t realize is that you can suffer the consequences of the lifestyle long after the party is over. Unfortunately, healthcare after the fact can be too little, too late.

As a group, musicians and artists have always lingered on the fringe of mainstream medicine, and their health has suffered. In 2013, before the Affordable Care Act was passed, an online survey by the Future of Music Coalition and the Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center showed that 43% of respondents had no health insurance, more than double the national average. The main reason given was cost, but for self-employed artists, the confusing gauntlet of options and a lack of understanding of assistance also played a significant part. The RIMHOF assembled a committee that spent more than a year researching ways to utilize their resources and develop initiatives for health awareness that would better meet the specific needs of the art community. In fall 2015, TI&TU began building a user-friendly website for artists at tuneintuneup.org. Their plans focus on developing more health fairs to educate and increase public awareness, not just for musicians, but also for families and the community at large.

The Buddhists say that when your intent and purpose are firm, the universe will come to your assistance, and funding for this effort seemed to fall magically into place. In 2014, the first Unity Concert to benefit TI&TU at the Ocean Mist in 2014 featured a dazzling collection of musicians rockin’ for the cause, including Roomful of Blues, John Cafferty, Steve Smith & the Nakeds, and Rudy Cheeks. The concert was so successful, they released a live CD, generating enough sales to set the stage for this year’s celebration.

“Feeling Alright” will feature a free public Health Fair from 1 – 4pm. The first 250 guests will receive a free TI&TU logo bag, the better to gather information and offers. Exhibitors and presenters include doctors, advocates, holistic & alternative healers and martial artists. Whole Foods will offer samples of healthy delicacies to pique taste buds, and the Providence Zen Center will offer food for the soul. Every 15 minutes, a guest lecturer will take the stage to present key issues in health and wellness. Ever wonder about that ringing in your ears (it’s probably tinnitus) or how the sleep deprivation of clubbing affects your brain cells? It is a guarantee that someone will be able to answer your questions here. TI&TU wants you to tune in to better health and wellness.

The concert at The Met, from 4 – 9pm, opens with a truly unique act, “The Rock’n Docs,” a band composed entirely of RI physicians. Next, the funk & soul of “Take It to The Bridge” take us to the headlining act, The Tune In & Tune Up All Star Band with the Fabulous Tunettes and the Famous In Tune Horn section. Don tells me, “There are no egos here. Every performer really believes in what we’re doing.” And those believers generate a powerhouse of talent. Duke Robillard, John Cafferty, James Montgomery, Steve Smith, Becky Chace, Michael Antunes, Philip Pemberton, Gary Gramolini, Rudy Cheeks, Mark Cutler, Chris Vachon, Brian Minisce, Emerson Torrey, Bill Light, Marissa Licata, Steve Malec, Adrienne West and Ron Lewis will be giving it all they’ve got. This concert is a tribute to every luminary who has been lost; it is an effort of hope, that we may never lose such brilliance needlessly again.

This event is a gift. Open it.

Both the fair and the concert are family-friendly. Tickets for the concert are available in advance at themetri.com/events/feeling-alright-a-uniter-event and at the door.

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