Most people wouldn’t be quick to associate community health organizations with college musicians. On Thursday March 8th, though, GlobeMed at Amherst bridged the gap in our first ever Battle of the Bands event. Four bands performed to raise money in support of our chapter’s partner health organization, El Pastoral de la Salud, in El Salvador. Pastoral utilizes a network of volunteer community health workers to provide basic medical care to rural communities in El Salvador. Our chapter works with Pastoral to fund and implement health-related projects in the communities they serve. Since our partnership began last year, we have funded the building and start-up costs of a completely student-run grocery market, training sessions for the community health workers, and the construction of fishponds and chicken coops for families. All of the proceeds for the event are going to support our next project with Pastoral, which is the building of a Casa de Salud, which is a health outpost center where the community health workers see patients.
Mr. Gad’s House of Improv emceed the show. As always, their famous “Gad’s Games” kept everyone cracking up and engaged in between each set. Everyone who attended had the opportunity to vote for the best band through donations, and the band that generated the most donations won. Amherst’s own campus favorite Railyard Conspiracy (RYC) opened the show and won the night over fellow performers Dérive, Max Miller, and Break Stuff Steal Things. Railyard Conspiracy is a five-man rock and roll-esque group who draws inspiration “from gospel to funk to Dave Matthews Band to Bruce Springsteen to Muddy Waters.” RYC’s musical talents are individually impressive and collectively incredible, and they were a crowd favorite. Dérive offered a more alternative style with a high-energy performance that kept the audience on its toes. Max Miller was a one-man show and used technologically generated back-ups to support his guitar and vocal performance. Break Stuff Steal Things closed the competitive portion of the night with their upbeat, auto tuned performance. The quirky style, engaging manner, and use of light-up rings by this trio were a huge hit. The popular campus a capella group Route 9 was our featured performer for the fundraiser and drew the night to a close. This also marked the debut performance for their 6 new members as well as their beautiful rendition of Coldplay’s hit “Fix You.” GlobeMed’s own Hannah Cooper thought these five distinct groups “exposed Amherst students to the musical diversity that exists in the five college area.” RYC and Route 9 member Ben Muller shared a similar viewpoint, saying, “the fact that there were numerous bands there, each playing a completely different genre, made for a really cool event.”
Brian Smith, a senior GlobeMedder, thought the benefit concert was a great way for our GlobeMed chapter to show its support for our partner, Pastoral, and for “local bands to showcase their talent.” Through donations from students, we raised over two hundred dollars towards our goal of $12,000 to help Pastoral fund our next project. Using music as a way to connect students with the work of our chapter was a dynamic way to get the Amherst campus excited about the work Pastoral and GlobeMed do together. The partnership between the six performing groups and GlobeMed honors our ideology of bringing disparate groups together to work towards a shared end. In this case, the performers used their diverse talents to inspire support for Pastoral, while we provided a place for them to have a blast creating the music (or witty improv skits) they love. While the overarching goal was to raise money for Pastoral, the Battle of the Bands accomplished a greater goal linking GlobeMed to groups outside of the realm of global health. In the future, Battle of the Bands has the potential to keep bringing different groups on campus together for a music-filled night that also supports the incredible partnership GlobeMed has with Pastoral.