An innovative partnership between the music community and Veterans groups is offering their model for others to follow.

Music soothes the savage beast.

This phrase slightly misquotes a line from the 1697 play The Mourning Bride. British poet William Congreve originally wrote, “music hath charms to sooth a savage breast.”

Recent stories have shown the power of song writing and programs such as Guitars for Vets to help Veterans connect and share both challenges and successes. The Buffalo Blues program has also proven that music can be a powerful tool to raise funds for Veterans after recently raising $40,000 to benefit Veteran programs.

Mission Bell CD Artwork

BUFFALO BLUES BENEFIT CD #2 “Mission Bell” was released during the campaign’s second season.

Bob James, a Buffalo, New York-based licensed clinical social worker and member of the Western New York Community Veterans Engagement Board is the music producer behind “Buffalo Blues Benefit for Veterans” aka ‘blues4vets’.

The Western New York music campaign is designed to help Veterans in need and those “at-risk,” as well as to help educate communities on how to help.

James has refined the model over 20 years in doing similar events for other causes such as safe schools and food banks. He is now focused solely on helping Veterans. James said his hope is other communities can launch a similar grassroots campaign, managed by volunteers under a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to improving outcomes for Veterans, families, caregivers and survivors.

“Music & the arts can do more than educate and inspire. It can be an engine to serve Veterans in building resources and engaging the general community to pay attention and get involved,” James said.

Vincent Bonelli and Geno McManus

New music partnerships are formed at Buffalo Blues events, bringing players from different generations together, like 16 year old Vincent Bonelli (left) facing off with international touring musician Geno McManus (right).

2019 is shaping up to be the biggest year so far for Buffalo Blues. Their biggest recent gig was an eight-hour, outdoor, 10-band event held Memorial Day in partnership with Hamburg Brewing Company, a local Veteran-owned business. The event raised over $7,000.

What may be their biggest event ever is coming up Oct. 24 and will be held in partnership with two groups, Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York, and the Sportsmen’s Americana Music Foundation, whose founder is a Veteran.

Partnership is Key 

The key to the success of Buffalo Blues is a symbiotic partnership between the music community and Veteran groups. The program is an ongoing campaign of events, not a one-off, tapping a range of artists, venues and locations. Musicians see a rise in their local profile in using their talents for a higher purpose, and that keeps them coming back to play more benefit events. To date, Buffalo Blues has developed a directory of more than two hundred musicians willing to do more for their local community.

Model available to be copied

Now launching a fourth season of Buffalo Blues, there are enough lessons learned that will hopefully inspire other communities to copy the model. Given that hope, the producer is writing up a “HOW TO LIST of Five Keys” which will soon be available as a guide for others interested in pursuing similar programs.

Learn more by contacting the Buffalo Blues via their Facebook page.

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Published on Aug. 1, 2019

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