One of El Paso’s hometown heroes is helping give back to the community that made him who he is.
Jim Ward, known worldwide for his work in the rock bands At the Drive-In and Sparta, is teaming up with the El Paso Community Foundation for the second annual El Paso Forever benefit concert in Downtown on Saturday, Oct. 12.
“Our goal is to use the show as both a fundraiser and an awareness raiser about giving back to your community,” Ward told El Paso Inc. “We wanted to bridge the gap between a generation that is maybe now starting to think about philanthropy. This is a good opportunity to show people ‘Look, you came to a show and your money went to a great cause’ – and that’s philanthropy. That’s you supporting your community.”
Ward and his wife Kristine have founded the “Because of You Fund” to start an inclusive girls music camp in El Paso called “You Rock!” in memory of Esme Barrera, an El Pasoan heavily involved in the Austin music scene. She was murdered in 2012.
“I think she’d be over the moon about this,” Ward said.
If all goes well, the camp should begin in the summer of 2020.
The first incarnation of El Paso Forever took place in 2018 and featured a performance by Ward’s band Sparta.
This year’s headliners are Long Beach rockers Cold War Kids, known for their bluesy, soulful take on indie rock with albums like “Robbers & Cowards,” and fiery singles like “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “First.”
Joining Cold War Kids will be two local artists: punk rocker Emily Davis (who, along with her backing band The Murder Police, are the opening act for revered punk band Bad Religion) and shoegaze band Sleepspent.
Ward says one of the primary goals of the show was to keep expenses low with the help of sponsors in order for all ticket money to go “straight into the community.”
El Paso Electric, Teachers Federal Credit Union, L&F Distribution, El Paso City Magazine, CultureSpan Marketing, and Barracuda PR have all signed up to sponsor the fundraiser, with more likely to be announced soon.
Ward said that he plans to continue El Paso Forever as an annual event for the foreseeable future.
“Hopefully we can double every year, try to bring bigger bands, and try to make it as fun and awesome as possible.”