Over the past several years Tune In & Tune Up was in a state of limbo as the direct result of COVID. Co-chairs Don Culp and Dr. Al Puerini had given over $20,000 of assistance to musicians but were at a crossroads because they were no longer able to reach out as they once had, through concerts and events. As a contributor to Motif, I helped shed light on Tune In & Tune Up in January 2023 when I launched the Music and Mental Health Series.
“Motif Magazine became aware and concerned about an alarming increase in mental health related issues in our RI music community,” says Culp. “Prescription and street drug overdoses, alcohol-related issues including suicide attempts with sadly some resulting in deaths, are on the uprise. The connection was made that stopping creative people in their tracks with very little moral or financial support has led many in our music community to a weakened state of mind. This has become a serious problem.”
The article helped revive Tune In & Tune Up. People reached out to see what they could do to help, including clinicians Kate Noveau and Mike Petrarca. Both were close with musicians and understood their need for additional services.
“I read the article and was moved to contact Don to ask to be involved in the cause,” says Petrarca.
“I was reading the January 2023 issue of Motif and the ‘Help for the Asking’ article,” says Noveau. “All of these lights went off in my head and I knew that I had something to offer here. During COVID I started working with a group called Backline that provides mental health and case management services to the music industry. They’re a pretty rad organization doing big work on a national level. I reached out to them first and then emailed Motif, who put me in touch with you and [Don Culp]. After speaking with DC and learning more about Tune In & Tune Up, we decided that, while Backline is a great organization, Tune In & Tune Up had already been doing some work right here in RI and they were eager to build upon it. Turns out another clinician, Mike Petrarca, had also reached out to [Don] with similar interest. So, it all happened very organically.”
“I set up a meeting and we worked out the start of the Trouble No More program on the spot,” adds Culp. “It was the first time that we had ever met and we were like long-lost friends, both Kate and Mike knew musicians who had suffered in some way from the pandemic. This initiative was near and dear to their hearts as well. I then brought in Doc Al Puerini who is the co-chair of the Tune In & Tune Up program, Doc was immediately taken in by this chain of events and knew this was an area that we needed to support.”
“The team is awesome,” Puerini says. “It’s a bunch of selfless, concerned people who just want to help our musician friends in their time of need. The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame has been an integral partner in all of our programs.”
The team had a few meetings to plan for the future. They outlined an initiative they dubbed “Trouble No More,” a confidential service that assists local musicians suffering with mental health issues, including (but not limited to) depression, drug and alcohol abuse or suicidal thoughts. (Ed note: a full article detailing Trouble No More will be in the next issue)
They also discussed benefit shows to help raise funds for “Trouble No More” and awareness for mental health struggles musicians face. Alstock, an annual live concert in Dr. Puerini’s backyard, was held in June and raised over $5,000 for the “Trouble No More” fund.
“We developed guidelines for musicians to access the program, developed a concise but comprehensive treatment protocol,” Patrarca says of their accomplishments. “We’ve also raised over $5,000 at Alstock and worked hard to promote the benefit show at the Ocean Mist.”
Tune In & Tune Up’s next big fundraiser will take place Saturday, September 30 at the Ocean Mist. The event will feature the fabulous Troublemakers Band performing the classic Allman Brothers Band Live at the Fillmore East album in its entirety for the first set. The Troublemakers will perform a second set backed up by local icons playing Allman Brothers classic songs. James Montgomery, Michael “Tunes” Antunes, George McCann, Gary “Guitar” Gramolini, Joe Parillo and Dean Cassell are all scheduled to appear. There will be a kick-off presentation at 8:30pm before the music starts at 9pm.
“We are hoping to expose as many people as possible to the important mission of giving our music community a place to receive help with mental health,” Culp says. “Certainly, we are looking to raise as many funds as possible to expand this program, possibly bringing in even more therapists to the family while investing in informative social media and continuing to host more fundraising events in the future for this cause. We have a limited number of sponsorship packages available.” There will also be raffle items, including a hand-made custom djembe drum and limited edition posters signed by all of the artists.
“The Ocean Mist concert will be a more formal concert in a more professional venue [than Alstock],” Dr. Puerini adds. “It’s a different approach to the same issues.”
The team will continue to work together long beyond the Ocean Mist benefit show. They have accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time, but they enjoy working together and have more awareness to spread. They all want to end (or at least decrease) the stigma and help individuals feel comfortable discussing their mental health and seeking guidance when needed.
“If you take nothing else away from this article or series, please just know that there are people available to listen,” Noveau pleads. “People in the music industry are a unique group with experiences quite different than the general public. We get that. No one is going to tell you to IMMEDIATELY STOP EVERYTHING BAD THAT YOU ARE DOING OR WE WILL JUDGE YOU FOREVER. Just talk to us. We get it. There’s coke and booze on tours and in back rooms, there are pills and pressures all over the place. We’re here to listen, and we’re here to help guide you to make some choices that will improve your day-to-day life and functioning, and make the world a little more tolerable.” •
Tune In & Tune Up’s Trouble No More fundraising show takes place Saturday, Sep 30, at the Ocean Mist, 895 Matunuck Beach Rd, Wakefield. Doors at 8pm. Tickets available for $15 at oceanmist.net or $20 day of show. Advance tickets are recommended. Limited number of sponsorship packages available, contact Don Culp at DCEXP29@verizon.net for more information.