The world is full of beautiful, unexpected collisions.
Take for example the upcoming "After School’s Out" benefit concert at The Hotel Foster on Friday, March 22.
The show, organized by Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric and his better half – and OnMilwaukee.com contributor – Lindsay Garric was put together to raise money for Lloyd Barbee Montessori, a Milwaukee Public Schools Montessori program housed in the former Garden Homes School on 24th and Teutonia.
The path to a globetrotting rock and roll musician coming to Milwaukee to raise money for music program for an inner city school is a winding one. But a golden one.
"Milwaukee is a second home for me," says Chuck Garric from Switzerland, where he's gigging with Cooper. "My wife was born and raised in Glendale and we spend so much time here. I wanted to give back to a place that has given me so much."
Garric says he’s learned a lot from working with Alice Cooper, not least of which is generosity.
"I've seen my boss, Alice Cooper, and his wife Sheryl do great things for kids through their charity, the Solid Rock Foundation – it inspires Lindsay and me to do more. I get to perform at his yearly charity show, The Christmas Pudding, which benefits their foundation and now their community center called The Rock Teen Center, which brings the arts to kids in Phoenix."
The 8 p.m. concert will feature performances by Garric – who has his own band called Beasto Blanco – and Milwaukee bands MotherDog, Into Arcadia and The Black Saints. Beasto Blanco is unable to perform at the show, so Garric will play with a group of Milwaukee musicians.
There will be auction items, too, which can be viewed online before the show.
Items have been donated by the likes of Cooper, Milwaukee native Al Jarreau, the Milwaukee Brewers, KISS, Thin Lizzy, Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osborne and others.
All monies raised will benefit Barbee – a K3-6 program named for a key figure in the fight to desegregate Milwaukee schools – which has an enrollment around 300. It is one of seven traditional public Montessori schools in MPS, which also offers a charter Montessori program.
With the money, principal Katie Loss hopes to add a day of music lessons to the school’s after-school programming.
"I am really excited about the show," says Loss, who is a dynamo and a tireless advocate for her students and the Barbee Montessori program.
"It has been great working with Lindsay and Chuck about aspects of the benefit. They have been so interested in the school and our blossoming Montessori program as well as the after-school arts program. They also know the benefits of arts education and the importance of extracurricular activities for children, and want to be able to help offer opportunities to children similar to what they were able to provide for their daughter.
"We wanted to be able to offer instrumental lessons or vocal classes this year but we were not able to get enough funding. It is our goal that we will be able to offer more variety in our after-school program and offer it more days of the week. The children participating in the after-school program are excited about school and are so interested in music. It is the hope that this benefit will be able to bring musical opportunities for our students."
The Garrics were looking for a suitable program to support with the concert when they heard about an act of arson that affected the school last year. That, says Garric, caught their attention.
"When I heard about the horrible fire that took place on the playground, it really compelled me to choose them as our beneficiary," he says. "We really liked the vibe that principal Katie Loss gave us and especially her After School Arts Initiative. When she explained they weren't offering music through it yet – we knew we had our cause!
"Plus, public education is really important to us. My daughter, Alisha is graduating from public high school this June. We chose to educate her in public schools and it's the best decision we made. Lloyd Barbee is really unique since it's a public Montessori school and I think it's great to bring attention and awareness to its existence. Music has been an incredible gift in my life. I feel the need to give back. To give these kids hope and a positive vision. I can do this through music – it shows the kids at Lloyd Barbee that they matter and we care."
Garric says the goal is to make the concert an annual fundraiser in Milwaukee.
"I want to make this a yearly event and next year I plan to get my friends on stage with me," he vows.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.