BWHers Get Ready to Rock at Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert
The Big 6, a Harvard-based cover band formed by emergency physicians from the Brigham and staff from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), will hold a benefit concert on Sunday, Nov. 12, in Cambridge to raise funds for communities affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“We wanted to get help directly to the field,” said bass guitarist Valerie Dobiesz, MD, MPH, of the Department of Emergency Medicine. “We know monetary donations are the most effective way to make a difference at the local level, and a benefit concert seemed like a fun way to get people together in support of an important cause.”
All proceeds from the event, hosted at Club Oberon, go directly to organizations providing humanitarian relief for affected areas, said singer and guitarist Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH, chair of Emergency Medicine and founding director of HHI. The band will cover all expenses related to the performance and will match funds raised by ticket sales. In addition, a group of anonymous donors will provide matching funds.
The concert will feature covers of classic and contemporary rock music.
Band members all regularly participate in domestic and international humanitarian efforts. They recently learned from organizations they often work with that donations toward relief efforts had dropped off as this year’s devastating hurricane season went on.
“Contributions came in quickly for Texas with Harvey, then less funding came in for Irma for Florida. By the time Maria hit Puerto Rico, there was much less support because of donor fatigue,” VanRooyen said.
Playing an active role in providing relief efforts all around the world is part of the Brigham’s culture, VanRooyen said. A benefit concert offers a great opportunity to encourage more people to contribute to relief efforts, he added.
“People who are affected by crises like these are their own best resource,” VanRooyen said. “They do the hard work. All we’re doing is lending a helping hand.”
Since forming last fall, The Big 6 has played mostly in smaller, private settings. Although this performance marks the band’s first concert in a larger venue, its members are excited to take the leap.
“There’s no pressure at all. We take it seriously because we try to do well, but we just have a hilarious amount of fun together, and I think that translates every time we perform,” VanRooyen said. “If we can get a bunch of our friends and colleagues together and have fun for a good cause, then that is worth the price of admission.”
Rhythm guitarist and vocalist Tim Erickson, MD, chief of Emergency Medicine’s Division of Medical Toxicology, agreed that The Big Six – including its three other members from HHI, Sam Plasmati, Isaac Baker and Katie Farineau – is excited for the big night.
“We love playing together, but it’s important for us that it’s for a cause and has an impact,” Erickson said. “We feel really blessed to have an opportunity to help.”
The Big Six Hurricane Relief Concert is Sunday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., at Club Oberon, 2 Arrow St., Cambridge. To purchase tickets, click here or call 617-495-2668.