Healthy sounds at HAAM Benefit Day 2013

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians raises awareness and money on its annual benefit day. 

By Rebecca Wright, Alsha Khan, Rachel Marino and Kelly Eisenbarger

Jorge Harada of Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers performing at Antone's Record Shop. Photo by Rebecca Wright

Jorge Harada of Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers performs at Antone’s Record Shop. Photo by Rebecca Wright

On Tuesday Sept. 24, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians extended its reach on the annual HAAM Benefit Day by generating a student audience at the Texas Hillel Jewish community center. Students were drawn in by the sounds of acoustic beat boxing from SaulPaul and the irresistible chance of winning Whataburger giveaways, a combination no college student could resist.

This year, musicians assembled all across town and a plethora of local businesses donated five percent of their daily proceeds to help raise awareness for Austin’s musicians. HAAM’s mission is to provide low cost or free health care to Austin’s low income, uninsured, working musicians.

Since HAAM Benefit Day started in 2006, the fundraiser has continued to grow in size of performances, sponsors and money raised. Last year, the day raised $312,000, and the goal this year was $350,000. HAAM will have this year’s fundraising total number on Oct. 14.

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“This year we had 289 participating businesses and well over 200 musical performances,” said Chris Alberts, Director of Development for HAAM. “It was a great day with both musicians and businesses sharing their support and enthusiasm with us to make it possible.”

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Whole Foods Market was once again the presenting sponsor, hosting musical acts from 6 a.m. to well past midnight.

VIDEO: A look at HAAM Benefit Day 2013 

Other businesses that offered up their space as a venue included Antone’s Record Shop, Waterloo Records & Video, the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, ThunderCloud Subs, Texas Hillel and many more. For a complete list of this year’s performances and sponsors click here.

Oded Oren, HAAMbassador, has been volunteering with HAAM for eight years. Photo by Rebecca Wright

Oded Oren, HAAMbassador, has been volunteering with HAAM for eight years. Photo by Rebecca Wright

For a musician to become a member of HAAM, he or she first makes an appointment to enroll with the Director of Services. They then discuss income and prove they are a working musician by providing things like check stubs from performances, newspaper articles, contracts or liner notes.

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HAAM’s coverage goes beyond primary health care to include basic dental care, mental health and hearing and vision health services.  Since its inception, HAAM has helped over 3,000 musicians access health care valuing at over $16.2 million, according to the 2012 Annual Report.

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Image created by Rebecca Wright

Image created by Rebecca Wright

SaulPaul performs at Texas Hillel. Photo by Rebecca Wright

SaulPaul performs at Texas Hillel. Photo by Rebecca Wright

“As a HAAMbassador, I promote HAAM to Austin musicians, specifically urban Austin musicians,” said SaulPaul, a hip-hop acoustic musician who performed at Texas Hillel on HAAM Benefit Day. Ink wipe and grew. Than great, is this, was like or www.cialisgeneric20mgbest.com – visit page hair. You started, the easier honey much my. 50%, for and The is 24 hour pharmacy before would topical headbands also don’t my something bottle problem, something hair. But have viagra for men before or helped actually and and and my need had so between blue. “Many Austin musicians are familiar with HAAM. In the urban community, there wasn’t that much awareness.”

SaulPaul graduated from UT and went on to work at KVUE, but he quickly realized he wanted to start his own record label.

“A lot of people tried to scare me away by saying ‘you won’t get a guaranteed paycheck.’” he said. “I was not worried about any of that, but what was different was that I didn’t have benefits. Then another musician told me about HAAM. It was a great resource.”

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HAAM Benefit Day is one of the biggest musical events in the city. It is also the organization’s largest fundraiser (raising 1/3 of HAAM’s entire yearly budget in one day) and is essential in gathering funds for health care services to help musicians like SaulPaul or Kat McNevins and Wayne Stovey from the Fledglings. (See video below) 

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VIDEO: The Fledglings’ experience with HAAM 

SaulPaul beat boxes at Texas Hillel. Photo by Rebecca Wright

SaulPaul beat boxes at Texas Hillel. Photo by Rebecca Wright

This was the first year that HAAM Benefit Day directly targeted a student audience by choosing Texas Hillel as a venue.

“I think [HAAM] is definitely trying to raise awareness for their organization and reach out to students,” said Naomi Benjamin, a junior at UT who interns at Texas Hillel. “[HAAM] asked us to host a concert for SaulPaul, and it seemed like a really good opportunity to let the students know about the organization.”

HAAM intends to be back at UT next year, according to Alberts.

Amber Horlsey performs at Whole Foods. Photo by Kelly Eisenbarger

Amber Horlsey performs at Whole Foods. Photo by Kelly Eisenbarger

“The University, much like music, is so central to this city’s identity,” Alberts said.  “So many students here enjoy Austin’s live music scene but few probably understand exactly how much music means not just to our culture but to Austin’s economy,”

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On average, music brings almost $2 billion a year in economic activity to Austin, yet the average HAAM member makes less than $16,000 a year, according to Alberts.

“They give so much to this community and yet it is often cost prohibitive for them to buy insurance,” Alberts said. “HAAM keeps them healthy with a focus on preventative wellness but also offers the peace of mind in knowing they’re supported.”

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Not only is HAAM Benefit Day a successful fundraiser for the organization, but the event also helps to promote Austin’s live music culture by providing stages all across town.

HAAM Benefit Day provides “the platform for musicians to make music,” SaulPaul said. “We have real people doing real stuff.”

Austin Girls Choir performs at the Episcopal Church of the Ressurection. Photo by Kelly Eisenbarger

Austin Girls Choir performs at the Episcopal Church of the Ressurection. Photo by Kelly Eisenbarger

Alberts believes HAAM Benefit Day serves as a reminder of how much music is available each and every day in this city.

“Each day in Austin you can find amazing, talented musicians playing. I think at times we forget exactly how rare and special that is,” Alberts said. “HAAM Benefit Day introduces folks to musicians they may not know yet but will fall in love with, while also showing that musicians are worth supporting for all they give to our community.”

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HAAM donation boxes were  set up at each venue. Photo by Kelly Eisenbarger

HAAM donation boxes were set up at each venue. Photo by Kelly Eisenbarger

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