Iraq

greetings one and all…welcome to another lengthy fundraising letter…

A few months back a received a email from a friend at a university in Sulaymaniyah in Kurdish-held Iraq. He was asking me about my Afghanistan and Lebanon trips and wondering if I would be willing to come there a do something similar. Hastily , and without careful consideration, I said “of course…what do you want me to do?…and when?”… hence this letter…

Here’s the rough plan…I fly into Sulaymaniyah Iraq in early May… there will be a week of activities…there is a guitar club who would like me to teach and an oriental music program that also would like a class from me [yea yea, keep your snarky comments to yourselves]…then there will be a fundraising concert, hopefully with a couple local musicians, in the city…all to support the three nearby refugee camps…

then we go to the camps…where I’ll teach, give concerts, scramble eggs and make pancakes…seriously, whatever they want me to do. The camps are overflowing…and full of children and teenagers for whom even Jerry Joseph’s music would be a welcome relief…these camps are made up of Kurds, Syrians and Iraqis…Sunnis, Shiites, Christians…all fleeing the current atrocities of war…check the map…if you drive fast you could make Mosul in a day.

When Michael Lewis and I went to Afghanistan there was a clear mission…to support Rock School Kabul…bring musical gear (a lot of it), teach music classes and teach the Shia kitchen staff to make tacos {true]….this is different…as of this writing, there is no singular organization bringing me in…no easy acronym for fundraising purposes as different organizations run the camps and music clubs and venues and I might have to wait till I’m on the ground to know where my involvement is best utilized…tho with the same transparency of the Afghan trip…I’m not sure where various monies will all end up…I could be bring musical instruments…but frankly if somebody says, ”fuck that, bring sleeping bags” then so be it.

My publicist Patrice is always looking for quotable sentences to explain why I’m doing things like this. I find it hard to come up with easy, smart answers not only for press but for you the reader whom I’m asking to send money. I would be an asshole to not state clearly that I personally get a lot out these trips. I’ve spent a lifetime playing bars and concerts around the world and consider myself very fortunate to having been able to do so…..as i may have said before, I was in Kathmandu some years ago sitting in with local Nepali reggae stars and this whole thing hit me…what good is playing music?…seriously?….singing in a rock band can be pretty great for the singer…but is it really affecting anything? In Nepal I finally understood there is a connection that can be established not just between artists but with the audience as participants, or even with people at home knowing the music is being made…that might actually transcend the music…of course coming from me, this might sound like a load of blather…it’s not…it was true for me…so I started trying to do these kinds of trips and while sure, it gets me attention and lets me go to places I had only dreamed of going…well…I think my friend Michael said it best…there was a kid in Kabul who would walk five miles every day for his guitar lesson…it was worth everything thing to him, including risking his life…because music…and paint and poetry and dance…let us say things we often can’t articulate in conversations with others…or even to ourselves…hope dreams sex politics love rage sadness joy…. Jesus, I sound like I’m writing for the Oregon Country Fair newsletter…I have seen this at work…in weird places…I’ve played dark alleys in Cambodian slums, Kibbutzim on the Red Sea…hard cider night in Tupelo, Mississippi…

I try to limit my fundraising events. I don’t think it’s your job to pay for my record, or “get the band on tour”….I reserve “the ask” for health needs of friends…and these types of trips…we live in some pretty crazy times right now…I think it’s more important than ever that as Americans…and just humans…we show our faces around the world

In this current anti-islamic climate…and fundamentalist islam’s anti-everything climate…I think going to Iraq with a guitar, bringing my fans into the conversation, bringing some kid in a refugee camp into the conversation, teaching yet another teenager how to play Master of Puppets…is a valid excuse for fundraising. The types of events a lot of you go to for music are crazy expensive…boat cruises, mexican all inclusives, seeing the jmos in Hawaii, etc…for a fraction…you can send some of the music where it might benefit someone else…or conversly…if you hate my music, you should kick in more…because nothing says “let’s get rid of that asshole Jerry Joseph“ like sending him to Iraq.

The plan is…we start a GoFundMe campaign in the next few weeks to raise 25,000 dollars…we are going to figure out the donation enticements…and then pushing the bejesus out of it…there will be two fundraising shows…April 1st at Mississippi Studios with the Jackmormons and guests….and April 2nd at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley…with the trio consisting of me, Dex and Dave Schools plus guests…I will be updating weekly with more clarity as to what exactly the itinerary will be…and how we can help with funds we raise.

I know I have an insanely loyal and generous fan base…you guys have always made this stuff work…let’s pull it off again! We can show that love and music actually does trump hate and xenophobia…more soon.

Thank you

Jerry Joseph

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