Story and photos by Joshua Maloni
The "Devil Without a Cause" now has a mission and (possibly) a way into Heaven.
Multi-platinum-selling musician Kid Rock held a press conference Sunday night in Buffalo to announce he was donating money to four local charities: Music is Art, Gaunches Unite, the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo and Special Spaces Buffalo. Through his Kid Rock Foundation, the Detroit rocker is donating almost $400,000 to organizations in 12 cities on his "Care" tour.
"The idea of this 'Care' tour came along not only from the song which I have, that we're promoting, but I have a son who went to college this year. I became an empty-nester after being a single father. I was kind of sitting around (and) didn't know what to do with myself after smoking cigars all day on the back porch," Rock said prior to his concert at the Town Ballroom.
Rock decided, "Let's go back and play clubs; let's go back to the most honest way to play music. You know, I remember playing these clubs over and over again. Struggling, and (now I'm) very fortunate, where we're not struggling anymore. You go back and play without your own financial gain -- anything -- just go out and play the music, and we've been bringing it for our biggest fans."
Recent setlists have included hits "Cowboy," "Only God Knows Why," "All Summer Long," "Born Free" and "Bawitdaba."
But Rock wanted to do more than just, well, rock, while on tour.
"So then I thought, hmm, I've got this foundation; I've been doing a lot of stuff over the years with the military, and around Detroit, and a lot of other stuff," he said. "I just realized how fortunate I was to be in position to be able to raise money for my foundation, which operates at zero percent overhead. Because I can play music for a lot of corporations -- these corporate gigs -- and rather than have them pay us -- because they don't pay for these gigs a lot of times -- (I'd) have them put this money in my foundation, which they were very happy to do. ... So, I'm really in a fortunate position."
Rock saw an opportunity to champion his hometown and partner with organizations in need of financial support.
"I said, 'What if I was kind of a goodwill ambassador for my City of Detroit, and for Michigan?' And, say, to have some other businesses to pony up with me, to say that, even though in Detroit we don't have a lot on our plate right now, we do care about other cities where I'm going to play, and other organizations, and trying to put our hands on the shoulders of other people, and trying to help their lives, and just make a difference," Rock said.
Rock runs the foundation himself. He's only hired one person (with his own money), who is tasked with sorting through eligible charities and gathering as much background information as possible (while also working with local radio stations).
"It has just been overwhelming, and a lot of fun -- a lot of work -- but very rewarding," Rock said.
"Right now, I just kind of like doing it myself, because I'm able to," he said. "And I know I'm very fortunate, because I know I get hit up every single day for concerts, for golf charities, for you name it. It comes in, I mean, it's a full-time job to sift through the stuff -- especially when people know that, yeah, you do want to help out. And there's a lot, lot of people out there who want to take advantage of that -- and rightfully so."
Currently, Rock is only raising money at his concerts.
"I've managed to take that burden on myself," he said. "I raise all the money playing my music. I'm very fortunate to do so."
If fans want to contribute, "I guess if they like my music they can just continue to enjoy the music and enjoy (going to) the concerts and stuff," Rock said.
"It's very trying times," he noted."(But) I'm a big believer that when there are enough people that get together and care about anything, that the human spirit's very powerful and can change things."
Buffalo Gaunches is one of the local organizations Rock is helping. The not-for-profit exists to support and assist Western New York families and individuals on a close and personal level during times of medical, accidental and economic hardship. Gaunches President Charles Pellien brought Robert Hartman and Jeff Stacy with him to the press conference. The two men are battling cancer, and will benefit from the donation.
"Kid Rock, these guys -- their families -- and all 500 members of Gaunches United thank you for your incredible generosity. You've proven that you really do care, and we love you for it."
Jody Briggs, of the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo, told Rock his contribution "is the miracle" a struggling single father needed to provide an apartment and furnishings for his three children.
Hearing these stories, Rock said, was "Incredible."
"It's (one of) the best feelings you can have outside of friends and family," he said. "I just feel very fortunate, everyday, just to be able to do what I love, and take care of my family, and have a healthy child.
"(I'm ready) to be able to give back now. ... It seems like I'm starting to figure out how to do some of the right things in life. Maybe I will get to Heaven -- I'm not sure."
For more information on the four Buffalo charities, visit www.musicisart.org, www.gaunchesunite.com, www.bgcbuffalo.org and www.specialspacesbuffalo.org. Keep up-to-date with Kid Rock at www.kidrock.com.