Local bands unite for benefit concert (6/25/09)

June 25, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Fans of two Burlington-based bands, one of which features a Williston musician, will converge Friday at South Burlington’s Higher Ground, all for a good cause.


    Courtesy photo
Collin Cope (left) and Aaron Burroughs of Funkwagon perform at a past show. Funkwagon and another local band, WAGAN, will perform at the inaugural Lundapalooza to benefit the Lund Familiy Center.

The event on June 26, the first ever “Lundapalooza,” will benefit Burlington’s Lund Family Center, a nonprofit aid organization for women, children and families. Formed in 1890, it is also Vermont’s oldest and largest adoption agency.

Performing at the concert will be the bands Funkwagon and WAGAN, as well as musician DJ Question. WAGAN is fronted by Williston-based keyboardist and vocalist Zach Rhoads. Funkwagon includes vocalist and harmonica player Collin Cope, a Lund teacher. Lundapalooza is his brain child.

Cope organized the Lundapalooza event because he wanted to create a different kind of fundraiser. As an educator with the family center, he said his love of the job led him to form the event.

“I was really wanting to do something to make a difference,” Cope said.

Staff members at Lund are also pleased with Cope’s effort and dedication.

“Collin and his band have worked with Lund staff to create a blueprint for an unconventional fundraising effort with great music,” Jen Woolf, the center’s chief development officer, said in a press release. “The approach is exciting, fresh and inspired.”

Cope said he wanted to find a way to combine his work and his music. With the help of his fellow band members, the idea of a benefit concert came to be.

“It’s kind of like my band and my work colliding together,” Cope said.

Funkwagon, a four-man group, also includes front man Aaron Burroughs, who plays keyboard and sings. Rounding out the group with Cope and Burroughs are Jacque Perron on bass and Rob Jones on drums. The band plays funk and blues music, mostly singing original material written by Burroughs and Perron. In the past year, Funkwagon has become a staple of Burlington’s lively night scene, routinely playing shows at Nectar’s and Red Square.

Cope has worked at Lund for about a year, teaching toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2. The family center has even paid for his classes to earn his associate’s degree in Child Development, he said.

Cope, a 2005 graduate of Champlain Valley Union High School, went to school with members of the band WAGAN, including Rhoads. Both groups have a love of rock and funk, with WAGAN a more blues-driven band, according to Rhoads. He said both bands find it funny they have similar names and interests, although it’s an unintentional resemblance. The groups have performed together on several occasions, most frequently at Nectar’s.

Rhoads said he discovered his love of music thanks to former Williston Central School — and now Charlotte Central School — music teacher Andy Smith. After graduating from CVU, he came together with a group of friends to start a band.

“At first, we just started by playing parties,” Rhoads said.

WAGAN includes Rhoads on keyboards and lead vocals, Chris Myers on drums, Sam Johnson on guitar, Chris Kunitz on bass and Justin Small on lead guitar. The group covers many popular rock and blues songs, with original songs written mainly by Rhoads.

WAGAN’s name came about in an interesting way, Rhoads said. He said the group didn’t have a name until someone asked at a show, and Small responded to the crowd, “We ain’t got a name.” The band was amused with the response and turned Small’s off-the-cuff remark into an acronym.

Like Funkwagon, WAGAN has played many Burlington bars and clubs. The band is now looking to book Boston and New York venues, and is also working on a studio demo recording, Rhoads said.

Rhoads said the band members of WAGAN are looking forward to helping their friends in Funkwagon put on a great Lundapalooza show. And Cope said he’s been anticipating the event all week. Both bands are hoping for a chance to play together as well.

“We want to offer some surprises,” Cope said. “It’ll definitely be different.”

Lundapalooza tickets cost $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. on June 26, with the concert starting at 7:30 p.m. in Higher Ground’s Showcase Ballroom. There will also be a raffle. Items include a Burton snowboard, an iPod Nano and gift certificates for massages and oil changes. All proceeds from the concert will go toward the Lund Family Center.

Music samples from both bands are available on their Web sites, www.myspace.com/funkwagonmusic and www.myspace.com/waganband.