It can be hard to jumpstart a brand after many years of dormancy, but Hospice Rocks did a lot of good for nonprofit hospices between 2000 to 2006. And it's once again showing vital signs of life.
The Hospice Rocks website is up in bare-bones fashion, promising more to come. But for what it has to offer now — tickets, T-shirts and a mission statement to raise money for local nonprofit hospices and music therapy — should give ample notice that the event is back.
On Saturday, November 11, Hospice Rocks will stage its first benefit since 2006, an "AZ Music Legends” show at Last Exit Live in downtown Phoenix featuring many of the bands that played shows during Hospice Rocks' original run like Zig Zag Black, Oil, Crushed, Super Sternal Notch, and Fred Green.
Bringing back these seasoned bands is an effective way to signal to the boomers who have been involved in the past and the people who have needed hospice care for their elders.
The common thread between Hospice Rocks then and now is Yvette Hathaway Minnix, its founder, and CEO. She started the ball rolling in 2000 when a local hospice took care of her mother before she passed on. "Local hospice help not only the loved one who is dying to pass on with dignity, they bring comfort to the family in countless other ways," Minnix says. "Whether you believe in a heaven above or not, they are earth angels."
A verbal thank-you didn't seem sufficient. "There's not much you can do other than giving them money," Minnix says. "At the time, I definitely wasn't independently wealthy, but I was bartending at Hollywood Alley. I was dating Todd [Minning from Fred Green] and had all the bands in town at my fingertips, so we did a benefit show. For the next seven years, it just snowballed."
In its heyday, Hospice Rocks could run a three-day event that would sell out three consecutive nights at three different venues. But a lot has changed in the intervening decade.
As financial responsibilities and raising a family intervened, Minnix had to put her fund and awareness activities aside. It was Minnix's hope that the next generation would pick up the torch but in restarting the organization, she has met with some resistance from millennial bands afraid to align with a cause they associate with aging and dying. Says Minnix, "When you mention hospice, the room goes all quiet. "
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Michelle Montgomery coordinates events and sponsorship development for Hospice Rocks, acknowledges. She says that "the biggest challenge is people’s fear of death making the topic of hospice one that can be difficult to broach. Specific to the topic of hospice, the challenge lies in the misperception that Hospice care is nothing more than an end of life morphine drip, and as such no education or even conversation is necessary. "
In taking this concept forward and rebranding, Minnix sees it being able to do benefits locally with younger bands but also be able to give tour support to said young local bands that need that extra push and to promote the cause across the country. "I know I'm dating myself with a five-year plan," she laughs, "but with the sponsors that we already have lined up, I can envision this being as big as Van's Warped Tour in that time."
For now, this reunion show will close a chapter, as several of these bands, such as Oil, Zig Zag Black, and Crushed have all said that they plan to stop performing. Which makes it a good time for the music community of then and now to come together. As Minnix is fond of saying, "It doesn't take a black tie affair to show you care."
Hospice Rocks is scheduled for Saturday, November 11, at Last Exit Live. Tickets to the 21-and-over concert are $20 via Ticketfly.