Richmond, VA – For the most part, words may have different meanings for different people. Addiction is one word, however, that generally means pain to everyone who understands. Look around, odds are you and virtually everyone in your life has been impacted by addiction one way or another. In normal times, breaking the shackles of addiction can be challenging. While 2020 will go down in history as the year of COVID, the story of COVID’s impact on those who struggle with addiction and their loved ones may long be an under-told story. That is why the First Annual Rocking for Recovery hosted by Another Round Bar and Grill on September 26th in Richmond, VA was so timely and special.
The idea for a charitable rock event to raise money for non-profit addiction rehab facility residences came to organizer Joey Bevins in October 2019. Joey, a recovering addict himself, is so thankful that such centers exist. They saved him and now he wanted to give something back. Although the event was originally scheduled for March earlier this year, COVID put a damper on it. Undeterred by circumstances, Joey worked diligently with several Virginia-area, pounding rock and metal bands to put on a show that would bring people together for a socially-distanced headbanging evening, all while raising money for a few organizations including the Virginia Association for Recover Residencies.
I was able to capture the first three bands for the night. If they were any indication of what was in store for the night, headbanging was definitely on the menu.
I am no stranger to the first band to take the stage, The Emma Garell Band. Having deep seeded roots in the Richmond rock scene, Emma has been tearing it up for several years, starting when she connected with a local School of Rock franchise. Over the years Emma and her band have evolved from primarily covers to a band with a sound that is purely Emma. Their last single, “Mother May I”, took a hard look at relationships and drug addiction from the view of the one being impacted looking in. Emma did not disappoint, giving those who ventured out to see them perform in their first appearance since COVID. The band did a mix of originals and some covers for an eagerly waiting audience.
Up second was The Naked Abstract, a band that was recently added to the lineup after a couple bands dropped out. The one thing that caught my attention was lead singer and guitarist Santiago Prada talked about his experience related to addiction, as he lost an uncle to it. Their second to last song was one called “Sinking Under”, which tackles the emotion behind suicide, mental health, and addiction. Santiago shared a little personal history with me – he had grown up in Columbia, South America at a time when drug and alcohol abuse ran rampant. He had two uncles that let chemicals take control of their lives, one never regained control, however the other took control of his life in 2003 and has been clean and sober since. It was obvious this event had a great deal of meaning to Santiago.
The final band I witnessed was Four Thirty Four, hailing from Staunton, VA. They are a relatively new band, officially hitting the stage for the first time in February of 2020 only to be put on hold due to COVID. While recently entering the live music scene, their performance was far from rookie. The band carries an exceptional stage presence and the mix of hard-pounding guitar and heavy percussion was amplified by lead singer Mike Vernon’s high energy. Look for them to make their presence known in a post-COVID world.
The other bands rounding out the night were, Artusha, Spiral Fracture, Gutterance, Alcindor, and Site Of Suffering. While I did not have the opportunity to hear any of these bands live, I have listened to several of their live performances. If you are in a brutal, headbanging and rock sort-of-mood, any one of these bands will deliver.
The First Annual Rocking for Recovery was quite a success, raising over $1500 for VARR to house residents during rehab. These are trying times for anyone and the need for these services is greater than ever. Under normal circumstances fighting addiction can be challenging, but when compounded by the additional stresses by events such as COVID – as Joey put it – the temptation to return to a place where cares are left behind is very real. September 26th brought eight hard-pounding bands that donated their time, talent, and music to help others face their demons.