Concert Preview: From 'The Dark Side' To Hearts On Fire — John Cafferty Headlining Choose Love Benefit
DANBURY — How did the creative artist behind one of the most popular movie bands of all time connect with a nonprofit movement that sprung from the heart of the Sandy Hook tragedy?
As he explained it during a recent interview with The Newtown Bee, it was family that helped put John Cafferty of Eddie and the Cruisers fame together with Scarlett Lewis, who launched a global movement after losing her son, Jesse, on 12/14.
Following those dark days in 2012 and early 2013, Ms Lewis decided to honor her late son by establishing The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.
With a mission to ensure that every child has access to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in their classrooms and to help facilitate this teaching within their families, schools, and communities, Ms Lewis and supporters, including Shelton preschool owner Laura Lipinski, went to work helping to spread the message Jesse left on his family’s kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died: “Nurturing, Healing Love.”
Ms Lipinski’s sister happens to be Terry Lee Cafferty, the wife of musician and bandleader John, whose powerhouse hits “On The Dark Side” and “Tender Years” punctuate the fictional 1983 film about a iconic rock star who suddenly disappears at the pinnacle of his career. So as Terry Lee, John, and their son Jackson got to know Ms Lewis, they collectively began putting their energy toward her cause.
Along with Jackson, who began supporting the organization’s work as a high school senior in 2017, the Cafferty family has seen the Choose Love Movement’s SEL program spread among schools in their home state of Rhode Island, their hometown of South Kingston, and far beyond the Bay State.
John Cafferty explained how the pieces initially fell into place between the families.
“I think Scarlett went to Laura’s [day care center] in Shelton, Wonder Years, and spoke, and then Laura introduced Scarlett to Terry Lee,” he said. “In turn, Terry Lee invited Scarlett to Rhode Island along with some members of our community — and my son, Jackson, brought some of his faculty. Then Scarlett named Terry Lee ambassador to Rhode Island for the Choose Love Movement.”
John said he tries to make every concert an “uplifting experience” for fans, so bringing The Beaver Brown Band to headline the upcoming “Hearts on Fire” Benefit Concert on Sunday, June 30, at Ives Concert Park in Danbury, is a perfect fit.
Presented by The Tapping Solution, the event, which begins at 3 pm, will serve as Jesse’s birthday celebration. The day of family fun will also include music by the Spadtastics — a Grateful Dead cover band — and Doug Allen, who will perform a tribute to Jesse he wrote called “Choose Love.”
The event will feature food trucks and vendors, including Weenie Lynn’s, Greeks in Your Town, Three Little Pigs BBQ, and the Tie Dying Mamas. Kids will thrill to see an enormous dragon puppet, Violet, made possible through the Connecticut Guild of Puppetry, and can create their own duck puppet with the Sova Theatre Company.
There will also be a slime station, scavenger hunt, raffles, and more.
Headliners John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band began their career in 1972 and achieved mainstream success in the 1980s, culminating with the Eddie & The Cruisers Motion Picture Soundtrack. The album sold more than 3 million copies and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
The hit single “On the Dark Side” held the No. 1 position on the Billboard Rock charts and the MTV video charts for five consecutive weeks.
The title track from the group’s 1985 follow-up album Tough All Over became their second No. 1 single on the Billboard Rock charts, and the song “C-I-T-Y” reached the Billboard Top 20.
John Cafferty’s solo track “Hearts on Fire” was featured in the Sylvester Stallone film Rocky IV, and he received his second double platinum soundtrack award.
Over the years, the journeyman musician has placed 35 songs in major motion pictures.
“I always believed music is a giving thing,” Cafferty said, “and if you do it right, you get the chance to lift people’s hearts — it’s a great gift to give and a great gift to receive. I’ve been on the receiving end of that for most of my life. Music has definitely changed my life, so it’s our goal at every show to cater to the moment and make the show as unique and special as it can be.”
Cafferty said as he and his family have become more involved with the Choose Love Movement, they have discovered the work of Scarlett Lewis bringing SEL concepts to so many across the country has equipped a generation of young people “with an incredible sense of well-being and self control.
“Terry Lee and I have done a lot of traveling to be part of Choose Love activities in California and Florida and in Memphis, Tennessee, introducing the program and meeting folks spearheading the movement,” he said.
“There have been so many heartbreaking things going on across the country, one of the worst of them right there in Newtown. People feel deep in their hearts that they want to do something about it and to make kids feel happy and safe,” Cafferty said. “That’s what every parent wants, and it’s great to be able to contribute to that, helping [promote] the great message of the Choose Love Movement.”
Tickets for the Hearts on Fire Benefit Concert are $25 for general admission and $75 VIP Meet & Greet, which will include Choose Love merchandise, Meet & Greet with John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, and food and drink vouchers in addition to admission to the show. For more information on the Hearts On Fire concert and the Choose Love Movement, CLICK HERE.
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