First Person

How Dirty Heads use music to “make a change, make it better”

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Dirty Heads photo by Dove Shore

By teaming up with Oxfam for the #SoundofChange campaign, the reggae rockers have found a sweet spot where good music and activism intersect.

When it comes to possible themes for rock songs, compassion and helpfulness are seldom first choices.

But when Southern California-based reggae rockers Dirty Heads recorded their most recent album, these are the concepts they focused on. Even the title track to the album, “Sound Of Change”, sounds more like a call to action than your typical hooky radio singalong:

I can hear it now, the horns are playing

The victory sound, I live in the now

The sky is my home, and I live in the clouds

Now or never, bound forever

Making a change, making it better.

Those lyrics speak directly to me and my work as Oxfam America’s music outreach manager. I’m always trying to find that sweet spot where good music and activism intersect. And when they do, great things always seem to happen.

Rather than simply releasing the album and hoping for the best, the band reached out to Oxfam with ideas for the #SoundOfChange campaign in conjunction with their North American summer tour this year. They’re adamant that music fans, artists, and organizations like Oxfam can make a difference.

Starting last week on World Hunger Day, the band put exclusive VIP tickets, meet and greets, limited edition merchandise, and signed collectibles up for auction on eBay, with net proceeds all going to help fund Oxfam’s work solving hunger, poverty, and injustice. In addition to the auctions, fans can look for Oxfam outreach tables at select dates on the tour, and can find more information at all dates at the merchandise booth.

“Oxfam’s understanding that quick fixes seldom help in the long run drew us in immediately.  It’s about creating real solutions that will be self-sustaining”, says Dirty Heads front man Jared Watson.

The band is so committed to making sure their work with Oxfam is as effective as possible, they even attended an “Oxfam 101” class that I held for them just before they headed out to play a giant radio station festival in Las Vegas last week. I’m very lucky to be able to work with artists that actually build Oxfam’s work into their interaction with fans, and in turn, I think Dirty Heads fans are lucky that the guys in the band are ready to share our information with them too, creating social justice activists at every tour stop.

“Oxfam’s greatest resources are people…this really resonates with us”, says guitarist Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell. “It’s up to you to be the change.”

Join Dirty Heads and Oxfam America to make a #SoundOfChange!

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