RI’s music community ‘Feeling Alright’ as it takes care of its own

RI’s music community ‘Feeling Alright’ as it takes care of its own

Health fair and community concert Oct. 21

PAWTUCKET – Rhode Island’s musicians are often so focused on stressful careers that pay little that they forget to take care of themselves. Add in the industry hazards of drug and alcohol addiction and unhealthy lifestyles, and it can be a recipe for disaster, say those behind the Feeling Alright Health Fair & Unity Concert, planned for Sunday, Oct. 21.

The Tune In & Tune Up Rhode Island Musicians Health Awareness Program, in conjunction with the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, presents the event at the Hope Artiste Village, 999 Main St. in the R.I. Music Hall of Fame museum and at The Met. 

The Health & Wellness Fair is free and takes place from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets for the 2 to 7 p.m. Unity Concert are $15 in advance and $20 day of show. Tickets can be purchased at www.themetri.com . Proceeds from the event will go toward continuing initiatives of the Tune In & Tune Up Rhode Island Musicians Health Awareness Program. There will be free valet parking from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., courtesy of Bullard Abrasives.

Pawtucket resident Russell Gusetti, co-chairman of Tune In & Tune Up, executive director of the Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland, and co-founder of Celtic band Pendragon, said last year’s opening event didn’t get a lot of buzz, but this year’s event, “for whatever reason,” seems to be taking off, with many new sponsors jumping at the idea of participating.

The idea for the event was born out of a R.I. Music Hall of Fame Committee tossing around the idea of how to help musicians who are often overwhelmed by the prospects of securing health insurance or going to the doctor. Those in the music industry “hold repeated benefit after benefit for musician friends who have fallen sick and, in some cases, become very very ill,” said Gusetti. Those musicians are often self-employed people without health insurance who don’t really take care of themselves. The chosen lifestyle they lead is “fraught with problems,” including staying up late, making unhealthy food choices, and giving into the temptation of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.

With the rise of the opioid epidemic, committee members felt even more of a sense of urgency in doing something to help their musician friends, said Gusetti. Musicians are far more likely to trust those in the industry to advise them on taking care of themselves than they are of asking a doctor, and this effort is all meant to “demystify” the process.

The name Tune In & Tune Up is inspired by the fact that most musicians simply tune out on their own health needs, said Gusetti. They become so confused about where to turn, thinking they have no money to even get health insurance, “and that’s the end of the conversation, potentially for the rest of their life.”

Outsiders often look at performers like they have such cool lives, seeing them only when they’re on that natural stage high and doing what they love, said Gusetti, “but I don’t think the public ever thinks what happens when that person goes home.”

Tune In & Tune Up is all about preventative health care and teaching musicians what they should or shouldn’t do, including maintaining a proactive diet and avoiding the pitfalls that often come up. In short, it’s putting “health care and preventative health care into a language they can understand,” he said.

This effort is very much about the entire music industry, including sound and lighting technicians, producers, engineers, and others, as well as their families and anyone who has at some point been touched by a musician.

Money raised from the Oct. 21 event goes to building the group’s website as well as holding seminars and workshops throughout the state on everything from hearing to carpal tunnel. Young people from School of Rock are also involved because organizers want to hammer home the idea of living a healthy lifestyle early, he said.

Depending on how big this effort gets, said Gusetti, the organization could one day get to the point where it will tell musicians to go get their annual physicals and then reimburse them $25 each year.

The 2018 theme,“With a little help from our friends,” symbolizes a new partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals (BHDDH) and an effort to focus an awareness campaign on the opioid crisis in Rhode Island to make the community aware of the help options available. 

The Tune In & Tune Up Rhode Island Musicians Health Awareness Program marks its sixth year with not only the beginning of its new partnership with BHDDH tackling the addictive dangers of alcohol and drugs including the opioid epidemic, but also event sponsorship by HealthSource RI and several other health industry professionals.

Upon becoming aware of the Tune In & Tune Up initiative, BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss stated, “My department is pleased to collaborate with Tune In & Tune Up. Mental health and substance use disorders affect all of us and we need to get the word out in places where we don’t have traditional access. This is an ideal forum for us to reach large numbers of musicians and industry pros who, due in large part to lifestyle, have a higher percentage of drug and alcohol use disorders than any other profession.”  

HealthSource Rhode Island Director Zach Sherman spoke to the natural alignment between Tune In & Tune Up and the state-based insurance marketplace. 

“At HealthSource RI, we aim to expand access to critical healthcare services by simplifying the health insurance purchasing process and providing financial help to pay for premiums,” he said. “We know firsthand how difficult it is to navigate the healthcare system and are proud to serve alongside Tune In & Tune Up to improve the health of Rhode Islanders.”

Joining Silver Sponsor HealthSource RI are Bronze sponsors United Healthcare, Rhode Island Primary Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Ortho Rhode Island, South County Health, Codac Behavioral Healthcare, and Bullard Abrasives. Community Sponsors are Neighborhood Health Plan, Hospital Association of Rhode Island, and BehaveCare. Motif Magazine is the media sponsor.

More than 35 exhibitors and presenters are expected. Exhibitors will be on hand to answer questions about their products and services and a guest lecture series will run throughout the day, focusing on key areas of health and wellness. Tune In & Tune Up will provide attendees with a tote bag pre-filled with literature and informational materials from all exhibitors. 

Gusetti explains, “While Tune In & Tune Up focuses on health awareness for the state’s music community and its industry professionals, we want it to be clear that the health fair is open to all and features information that is important to everyone, especially those who are self-employed.” 

Don Culp, Tune In & Tune Up co-chairman added, “It is our sincere hope that our free health fair and Unity Concert will provide health awareness to any and all Rhode Islanders who attend. Knowing that ‘knowledge is power,’ our organization’s aim is to educate people to become healthier while demystifying the confusing world of health care.” 

The Unity Concert will take place inside the Met, from 2 to 7 p.m. Many past Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame inductees as well as other local musicians will be performing with the Tune In & Tune Up All-Stars including: John Cafferty, James Montgomery, Steve Smith, Michael “Tunes” Antunes, George McCann, Mark Cutler & Emerson Torrey, Kim Trusty, Neal Vitullo & Dave Howard, and Tyler Morris & Craig Rawding. Also performing short sets will be pianist Mark Taber, The Rock’n Docs (an all-Rhode Island doctor band), and The School of Rock Show Team.

Each featured musician or duo will perform two songs of their own choosing backed by The Tune In & Tune Up All-Stars, The Fabulous Tunettes, and The In-Tune Horns who represent possibly the largest house band ever created for a single event in Rhode Island. The Tune In & Tune Up All-Stars are Don “D.C.” Culp on drums, Gary Gramolini and Steve Malec on electric guitar, Dean Cassell on bass, Robert Johnson Howard on acoustic guitar, Steve Burke on keyboards, and Bradie Speller on percussion. The In-Tune Horns features Steve DeCurtis on trumpet, and Doug James and Andrew Clark on saxophones. The Fabulous Tunettes feature vocalists Adrienne West and Leslie Grimes. 

Hall of Fame inductee and Tune In & Tune Up committee member James Montgomery comments, “Tune In & Tune Up is important to musicians because it provides specifics on what, where, and how to get help and the Unity Concert, well it’s uncommon to have that many great players on one stage and I’m looking forward to it. This show will be a blast. Don’t miss it!”

Full information about Tune In & Tune Up as well as the “Feeling Alright Health Fair & Unity Concert” can be found at www.tuneinandtuneup.org .