A few years ago, I met a group of inspirational young men. They are hard-working family men who want to change the world. They care more about social justice than making money, although they have experienced a decent amount of success in their careers. They found a way of using their job to connect people with important issues around the world.
Oh, did I mention their job is playing in a Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling rock band?
Any dedicated fan of the band Switchfoot will tell you this is no ordinary band. Move over Coldplay, because these guys are "the nicest guys in rock 'n' roll." You can almost always find them talking to fans before and after the show, and lead singer Jon Foreman has been known to treat fellow music enthusiasts to impromptu acoustic performances at the local coffee shop.
Recognized for their humanitarian efforts, the band's upcoming tour is helping raise awareness of depression, drug addiction, self-injury and suicide. Switchfoot's last tour helped raise more than $100,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
Switchfoot's music often is described as "music for thinking people." The lyrics challenge the listener to evaluate life on a deeper level and rise to their highest potential. The hit "This Is Your Life" testifies to that with a chorus of "This is your life, are you who want to be?"
In this world of hate mongering and apathy, it's refreshing to hear a modern artist tackle issues of such sustenance. As a parent and youth leader, I see the influence of music, both good and bad. Our young people should be exposed to concerts of a positive nature, but it's difficult to find such fare in the La Crosse area.
When a friend of mine heard Switchfoot was doing a college tour this spring, she contacted their management company to inquire about bringing them to La Crosse. The response was an enthusiastic "Yes, we are excited to come to La Crosse!" The band even availed themselves at an affordable price, which was surprising considering they sold out most of the dates on their fall 2007 tour.
Unfortunately, efforts to book the band fell short. Even though many people and local organizations were excited about the possibility, no one was willing to take the financial risk.
Someone, however, had the means and desire to bring the band Hellyeah to the La Crosse Center in February. This is a band whose lyrics encourage alcohol abuse, something our community is trying to prevent. I'd love to print some of those lyrics for you, but the profanity might not make it past the editor. You can read them here: http://www.lyricsmania.com/lyrics/hellyeah_lyrics_15194.
Switchfoot has expressed a willingness to come here at a later date. If this community is serious about saving young people's lives, it's going to take more than an ordinance and river patrol. It's going to take community leaders with the courage to make changes in every area where alcohol is glorified.
Music may play a small part, but let's start putting our money where our mouth is.
Lisa Grant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.