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Local band fundraises for bush fire-affected Australian First Nations

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As usual most days, a crowd of people populated Hotel Congress on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. This show was not just a concert, however, but a benefit show to raise money for the Australian charity Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities, in light of the bush fires still raging in Australia.

"The places these communities live are extremely affected by the fires," said Mahmood Gladney, a member of the band Rough Draft featured at the concert. "And these are communities that already suffer a lot of systemic problems."

Along with Rough Draft, the lineup included Separate Ways, Dismorphic, Hikikomori, Summerhead, Carnival and the Australia-based band Death Bells.

For the members of Rough Draft, a local band that has risen to local prominence in the past few years, taking action through performance came easier to the members. According to Rough Draft members Gladney, James Noriega and Bryan Zamarripa, having a platform and performing is a powerful thing.

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“Most performers set standards. They act like role models, because you’re literally on a higher plane," said Noriega, the lead vocalist of Rough Draft. "When you perform, there’s an inherent power dynamic, and so if you’re promoting certain things, it’s good to use that slight power dynamic in a positive way.”

Gladney, the guitarist for Rough Draft and a computer science major at the University of Arizona, also saw playing benefit shows as a necessity to being a part of a community.

Copies of the newly released music from the local Tucson band Rough Draft.

“When you’re existing in a certain space, you have an obligation to give back to it, especially when that community has helped you so much," Gladney said. "This community has helped us so much that we feel obligated to help back."

This was not the first benefit show that the band Rough Draft ever participated in. According to Gladney, the band has done several different charity shows, including one for Planned Parenthood. In 2019, the band helped organize a Club Congress show supporting the People’s Defense Initiative, a "community-led grassroots organization dedicated to building a radically inclusive and transformative movement which uplifts and defends human rights," as written on the group's website.

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Gladney and Noriega pointed out that many of Rough Draft songs were not political in themselves, unlike some of the causes they support. Noriega explained that political lyrics don't flow naturally from him, which is part of why he likes performing for a cause.

“If you’re trying to bring change, [music is] a medium to promote that. That’s one of the main things," Gladney said. "It's hard to necessarily bring people [together] if you’re just trying to bring awareness on its own. Something like this allows people to do what they would normally be doing but simultaneously bring awareness to an issue.”


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