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Big Things Small Artists Can Do 
To Take the "Blue" and Make It "New" Again 
By psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT, the Rock Doc 

Donate-to-download offer to Tollbooth readers: 
For a free mp3 copy of BLUE ORLEANS by, the title track (as aired in New Zealand College radio station 98.5 RDU) from the two-song "soundtrack" to the following article, donate to the Salvation Army's Katrina relief efforts 800-SAL-ARMY (honor system), and then visit via this link:

Blue Orleans by the U.S./Canadian band, 
Words and music by Dr. BLT and D. Enns (c) 2005 

When big disasters happen, big stars are always there to bring in the big bucks for relief.  After all, they have big bucks behind them to mobilize and respond quickly.  If you are a big star, it certainly doesn't hurt your image to participate in a big way when it comes to charity.  

We could all stand by and cynically question their motives, or question the motives of record industry executives who dictate their every move, but we would all be hypocrites.  When it comes down to it, there is no such thing as pure altruism.  Being human and responding to human need without the anticipation of some sort of secondary gain, is rare, if existent at all.  We all expect to get paid back when we give, if not here on earth, then in heaven.  Big stars may expand their respective fan bases when their fans take note of how charitable they are.  The rest of us may get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside and that is enough to keep the charitable gifts flowing.  Getting something in return for giving does not necessarily render our giving an act of vacuous vanity.  The best we can hope for is that God will plant the right motives in all of us for helping our brothers and sisters in need, and that where we fall short of His glory, He God will use us in spite of ourselves.  

Big stars who do not openly profess their belief in Christ, (if they have such belief at all), are often downgraded by Christians who view them as vainglorious, self-serving, Godless, self-proclaimed gods and goddesses of greed.   We forget that we are all made in the glorious image of God, and that, as such, we all have access to feelings of compassion.  Granted, having the spirit of the living God dwelling within us gives us a more direct pipeline to such compassion,   But that does not mean that we can stand in judgment of the big stars who may be consequently adding a little more polish to their stars on the Hollywood walk of fame by openly contributing to the needs of survivors in time of crisis.       

I will cite just a couple of examples of big star-studded events that raised money for those afflicted by Hurricane Katrina.  Then, after flashing the works of stars in your face and making you feel totally insignificant in the process, I will show you how to make your little light shine brighter for those afflicted by the hurricane.  Like Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo once said in a hit song from the '70's, "You don't have to be a star, baby, to be in my show..." 

Big, Star-Studded Solutions 

Probably the most high-profile Hurricane Katrina relief event to take place was MTV's ReAct Now: Music & Relief Concert.  Headlining this internationally broadcasted event were Green Day, Ludicris, Usher, Rob Thomas, the Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Clarkson, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, and many, many more.   Many performances and/or songs featured in the event could be downloaded for a small donation.   Among the best songs offered were "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day, "Good is Good" by Sheryl Crow, "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" by Beck, and "Right Here" by Staind. The music was moving, meaningful and, most importantly, effective in terms of getting the givers to give.   

Then came Shelter from the Storm: A concert for the Gulf Coast, which aired over all the major networks.  It featured the likes of comeback kid, Mariah Carey, the little-bit-country-little-bit-rock 'n roller, Sheryl Crow; the slick-fiddlin' hicks with the hot country mix, aka The Dixie Chicks; Alicia Keys, with a voice fit to please; rhymin' Paul Simon, like an all-star pro lineman; Randy "nursery-rhyme" Newman, and Neil "Heart of Gold" Young, with a song deftly sung.   Kayne West was there, on a wing and a prayer, and a foot in his mouth, didn't speak-wouldn't dare, because the last time he spoke, very sour was the note.  And the race-baiting quote, well, it wasn't a joke.  

This is the stuff that star-studded events are made of.  Big stars representing multiple genres strutted their stuff in big ways across the nation, and indeed, across the world, in an unprecedented wave of support that pulled in big buck for survivors of the storm.  What I've discussed is only the tip of the iceberg.   I won't spend a moment more dwelling upon the big shows of the big stars.  My main interest is getting the rest of you to see that, while you may not have the resources to do the big stuff that the big stars have been doing, you can do more than you are doing now to make a difference in the Gulf region, and to shine your light on this colossal crisis.  

I've created this list of things for you to do to take the "Blue" out of "Blue" Orleans, and bring back the "New."   

Smaller, But No Less Significant Solutions That Shine Too

No, you may not be a big star, but you can: 

  1. Write and record songs that convey compassion for survivors, and/or songs that poignantly tell the story of those afflicted by Katrina, and her weaker sister, Rita.  Even if your song isn't a hit, affording survivors the opportunity to access music that chronicles their pain, and validates their suffering can be a meaningful part of the emotional and spiritual healing process.
  2. Pull a Paul Simon---put down your guitar for awhile, go down to the Gulf region and get your hands dirty by getting involved in some pragmatic way with the reconstruction efforts.   One way to pull this off would be to join the efforts of Habitat for Humanity, who is seeking volunteers to rebuild homes.  To help get you motivated, I'm offering you a free mp3 copy of a song that could serve as a theme song for such a commitment: When I Grow Up I Wanna Be a Carpenter:  words and music by Dr. BLT (c) 2005 
  3. Raise a little money of your own for charitable relief work in the Gulf by doing a gig at a local coffee house, a church.
  4. Support the efforts of your fellow artists who are using their music to relieve suffering in the region.  
  5. If you feel alone as an artist, and feel there is little you can do on your own to make a difference, collaborate with other artists you admire.   You don't have to be a big star to make a big difference.  You just need to shine.   When you put a bunch of little stars together, they can make a pretty big light.  Let the light of Jesus shine on the Gulf region until all the darkness is gone, until the "Blue" in "Blue" Orleans is gone and the "New" has come back home to stay.     



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