Michael Holloway

Rock the Stream Plays For Nonprofits

Rock the Green and musicians team on new weekly streamed concert to benefit nonprofits.

By - May 20th, 2020 04:57 pm
Devil Met Contention performing at Rock the Green 2017. Photo by Erol Reyal.

Devil Met Contention performing at Rock the Green 2017. Photo by Erol Reyal.

Having spent years working in the music industry and watching it change with the times, Lindsay Stevens really felt for the musicians that had to cancel shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Founder and Executive Director of Rock the Green, a 501c3 non-profit focused on eco-friendly live music events, Stevens decided to help where she could and created Rock the Stream — a virtual concert and fundraising series pairing local musicians with environmental-focused nonprofits.

Every Thursday at 7 p.m., the musician of the week performs a live-streamed set. Each musician is paired up with a nonprofit, and “concert goers” are encouraged to donate. Half of all the funds donated to the nonprofit are then distributed to the artist. This week, on May 21, Devil Met Contention will be raising funds for the River Revitalization Foundation.

“It’s always great to be able to support a constructive organization informing the public about things that they can do to maintain the environment,” says Ehson Rad of Devil Met Contention, who will be performing solo on the live stream. “With the whole pandemic thing happening, it’s pretty apparent how fragile our society is when something like this happens and having a conversation about environmental conservation makes a huge difference.”

Having just released a new EP titled WAIT but with no way to introduce the music to a live audience, Ehson gets the opportunity through Rock the Stream to showcase these new songs, as well as take requests for some of the band’s older material. And with the its main office closed and events like the annual Garlic Mustard pull-a-thon canceled, the River Revitalization Foundation gets a chance through this concert to remind people of the good things it does.

Stevens has gone the extra mile to ensure that the artist of the week feels like they’re performing an actual live concert with what she calls “The Stream Room.” Instead of a green room where an artist would warm up or enjoy free food and beverages, Stevens has picked out a local restaurant each week that will cook for the artist, and encourages those watching to order take-out or delivery from said restaurant. This week, Cloud Red (4488 N. Oakland Ave.) will cater the livestream.

So far, Rock the Stream has seen three iterations. The concert series debuted with a performance from Trapper Schoepp, who raised money for Milwaukee Riverkeeper. The following weeks, Lex Allen encouraged support for Teens Grow Greens and REYNA brought awareness to Girls Rock Milwaukee.

“What I’m seeing in the comments of these live streams is that its bringing so much happiness and direction — like, ‘Hey, we’re all in this together,’” says Stevens.

Rock the Stream was born from a Zoom conversation between Stevens and Mayor Tom Barrett on Earth Day — a loose idea that she had in her head that she turned into a reality only a few days after their talk.

“Not being able to go out on the road right now is huge (for local musicians) and same with the non-profits — they’re all struggling,” Stevens says.

Much like how Rock the Stream was devised as a way to mitigate local musicians’ lack of touring, Rock the Green was founded to lessen the impact that large-scale music events have on our ecosystem. The nonprofit’s Sustainability Festival has artists performing on three stages — one of which is pedal-powered and another that is solar-powered. The festival gets down to the nitty-gritty with its eco-conscious decisions — plastic water bottles are substituted for a refillable aluminum water bottle handed out at the gate, and human waste is recycled. All Rock the Stream musicians have been selected from past lineups of the Sustainability Festival.

Stevens plans on keeping Rock the Stream going until live music events can actually happen. On June 4th, Klassik will be raising funds for the Urban Ecology Center. Chicken Wire Empire will be raising funds for the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center at date that is yet to be determined. For more information on this week’s livestream and how to watch, visit https://www.rockthegreen.com/devil-met-contention-river-revital.

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