PFC Artist Spotlight | Vasti Jackson

With decades of experience to show for it, Vasti Jackson‘s love and admiration for the blues is undeniable. Throughout his vast career, he has shown himself to be a true “Bard of the Blues,” telling stories of the genre’s roots, teaching audiences about the struggle from which the blues was born, and carrying on the soulful tradition for new generations to grab a hold of.


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Born in McComb, Mississippi, Vasti Jackson was bound to be indoctrinated into the blues. First by family, and then through his surroundings, he gained invaluable experience growing up surrounded by the influence of the Delta blues. With a strong attraction to the guitar, Vasti began performing at local churches and juke joints while studying music at Jackson State University. As his artistry developed, Vasti was employed as a session musician working for various labels until he was named musical director for the television show, Blues Goin’ On. Throughout this period, he continued to perfect his craft, moving effortlessly from blues to soul to jazz to funk to gospel to pop, and more.

The early 90’s is where Vasti would find his rhythm, writing many songs from his life, releasing his debut album Vas-Tie Jackson, and partaking in recordings with other notable musicians such as B.B. King. In 2012, Vasti was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, forever leaving his mark on the Mississippi Delta Blues.

“As an artist, Vasti is known for sweat-drenched, soul-ripping performances marked by some of the most stunning and innovative guitar playing in Blues today. Vasti’s talent has been enlarged by an amazing array of musical experiences over 35 years of his vibrant career. Jackson’s Recordings “No Borders to the Blues”, “Live In Nashville” and “Mississippi Burner” present audio buffet of Vasti’s limitless energy and boundless imagination. It spotlights his talents as singer, and composer, and his utterly thrilling guitar mastery.”

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Wherever he goes, the blues seems to follow, and wherever the blues are, you’re sure to find Vasti.


Career with PFC

For more than 5 years, Vasti Jackson has been involved with the Playing For Change Movement, first through live performances with the PFC Band, and eventually joining in a few Songs Around The World as well. With his wealth of knowledge and boundless musical talent, his contributions to Playing For Change have impacted the lives of thousands of supporters, as well as students from across the world.

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Recently, Vasti traveled to the Saharan Desert with the PFC Foundation to visit the Joudour Sahara Music Program. Meeting with local musicians from the M’Hamid el Ghizlane region of southern Morocco, Vasti and Maya Kyles, a young drummer also from Mississippi, taught lessons and performed together, working to find the connection between blues from the two continents.


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When he isn’t traveling the world, Vasti Jackson continues to educate audiences on the history of the blues and African culture in America. From January 29th through February 10th, Vasti served as musical director and a performer in the Marcus Gardley story, “Hell in High Water.” This play relives the account of the Great Flood of 1927. Set in Greenville, this story follows the social, economic, and political realities of an entire city of people who are subject to the powerful will of the Mississippi River.

Along with his fellow cast mates, Vasti recently hosted a PFC live stream while on set:

Carrying on with his stage performances, Vasti has just headed back to Germany to continue his role as Ike Turner in the musical “Simply The Best – The Tina Turner Story.”

As a musician who continuously pushes himself beyond borders, across cultures, and into the lives of new world audiences, Vasti Jackson is the embodiment of our mission to connect the world through music. We look forward to reuniting with him again soon, and encourage you to keep your eye on Vasti.

One Love,

PFC

Audio-Technica: PFC’s Exclusive Global Sponsor of all Headphones and Microphones

LOS ANGELES, CAPlaying For Change (PFC)—the global movement that was created to connect the world through music by recording, filming, and distributing musical performances—is proud to announce its new sponsor, Audio-Technica, will supply microphones and headphones to all international PFC-related events. Additionally, the Playing For Change Band and the Playing For Change Foundation will receive donations of microphones and headphones as well as technical support from Audio-Technica.

Reflecting on their future relationship, Playing For Change CEO/Co-Founder Mark Johnson offers, “We have been using Audio-Technica headphones for years and are excited to have them joining in on our ongoing mission of connecting the world through music. Much of what PFC does involves getting audio in the field—a task to which Audio-Technica microphones and headphones are well-suited. Audio-Technica also understands that music is about people, that it’s our global language and heritage, and it must be preserved and cherished. We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with Audio-Technica and together, show that great sound is everywhere.”

Playing For Change represents the ways in which music unites us around the world,” adds Audio-Technica US President/CEO Phil Cajka. “We are proud to support their endeavors and we look forward to serving as an advocate for their efforts throughout the year.” That shared mission will result in Audio-Technica’s sustained presence in all PFC ventures as the organizations work together.

In addition to PFC Day events, PFCaffiliated concerts, and the Playing For Change Band directly benefitting from the Audio-Technica sponsorship, students from around the world who participate in any of the 15 Playing For Change Foundation music programs will also receive headphones, microphones, and Audio-Technica technical support.

For more information, please visit audio-technica.com.

 

Playing For Change Announces WE ARE ONE Benefit Concert

Los Angeles, CA, August 22, 2017Playing For Change, the multimedia company responsible for the popular ‘Songs Around The World’ video series, has announced it will host WE ARE ONEa concert benefitting the Playing For Change Foundation and celebrating 10 years of positive change through music. Official partners for the event include Los Angeles’ premier rock radio station 95.5 KLOSLA Weekly, and Japan-based music app Nana. The concert will take place on Tuesday, October 3, at the historic Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles and feature performances from The Doobie Brothers members Tom JohnstonPatrick Simmonsand John McFee; as well as Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett from Little Feat; The Playing For Change Band, that features 10 respected musicians from 10 different countries; world-renowned drummer James Gadson; The Ambassador of Soul, Ellis Hall; legendary harmonica player Lee Oskar; and more. Ticketing options include an exclusive VIP experience with a pre-show meet and greet reception with The Doobie Brothers and musicians, bar offerings, a priority seating area, and VIP gift bag which includes a commemorative poster. Tickets are on sale now at https://tickets.alistixs.com/event/weareone

Playing For Change has garnered much success over the years by combining musicians from all walks of life, all over the world and showcasing music’s unifying power. Their videos have more than 450 million total online views, with their first ‘Songs Around The World’ video, “Stand By Me,” accumulating more than 100 million views on YouTube since its release in 2008. Artists such as Keith RichardsBonoJack JohnsonDavid CrosbyJimmy BuffettSara BareillesManu Chao, and many others have participated in these multi-cultural videos performing songs such as Bob Marley’s One Love” and “War/No More Trouble,” Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” and John Lennon’s Imagine.” Playing For Change’s new record, being released next year, features The Doobie Brothers along with more than 20 musicians from across the globe in a Song Around The World version of the band’s iconic hit song, “Listen to the Music.” The video for this song will be premiered at the show on October 3rd.

The Playing For Change Foundation, a separate 501(c)3 organization, was established in 2007 in order to give back to the communities of the musicians met while filming these videos. Now embarking on its 10th year, the foundation has developed 15 music programs in 11 countries including South Africa, Rwanda, Nepal, Thailand, and Argentina, and serves more than 1200 children. All proceeds from the WE ARE ONE benefit will support free music education as well as supplemental primary educational support, and life enhancement services provided by the Playing For Change Foundation and assist in its effort to serve even more communities.

“When one thinks of the thousands of children around the world positively impacted by the Playing For Change movement, gaining free access to music education in their own homelands, the love over a decade is simply immeasurable,” said John McKenna, Executive Director of Playing For Change Foundation. “What better place to celebrate than right here where it all started? We look forward to an unforgettable evening of joy, celebration, and recommitment to the children everywhere, through united love and song.”

“This concert represents 10 years of traveling to over 50 countries connecting the world through music. From the streets and villages to the stage to the hearts of the people, Playing For Change,” states Mark Johnson, Co-Founder of Playing For Change.

“Supreme Success Through Perseverance” by Mark Johnson.

The Playing For Change Band just completed its summer “United World Tour” in Europe and one very special show in Beirut, Lebanon. We have toured Europe for many years but this was the first ever PFC Band performance in the Middle East and we didn’t take it lightly. As much as I prefer to avoid the world’s stereotypes of where we can and should travel, I was concerned for the safety of the band and crew as we traveled to Beirut. The US State department clearly warns United States citizens should avoid travel to Lebanon but I remembered my father telling me it was once considered the “Paris” of the Middle East, full of life and culture.16-9-united-tour-thumb

I was determined to discover what life was like in this mysterious and potentially dangerous city. I contacted our local promoter, Amin Abiyaghi, and asked him to help us find some local musicians we could record/film for new PFC Songs Around The World as well as invite them to join our show and add some local flavor to our concert. He was more than happy to help me and so we began production through Skype and email; everyone seemed more than excited to join the PFC movement and support us in any way they could. We received our permits to film in and around Beirut and assembled an oud player, percussionist and female violinist to join us as well as a great Lebanese singer named, Yuri Mrakadi. A small crew with cameras and our mobile recording studio traveled with me a few days before the band was set to arrive from Milan, Italy to Nice, France and then onward to Beirut. I remember my heart was racing as we got closer to our destination as I was so curious about what type of place we would discover…

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Since we started traveling the world with Playing For Change over 10 years ago I have personally traveled to about 50 countries but I never lose the excitement of discovering a new city, town or village and seeing it through the lens of their music and culture. Beirut, the Land of the Sun, brought out more emotion than I can remember in quite some time. It was a trip of battling my own internal fear and outward propaganda that demonized a once thriving city and made us feel unsure about our safety. Once the plane landed, it was too late to turn back and so we had to move forward a bit cautious but also full of excitement and determination to connect the world through music.

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The next few days in Beirut where full of amazing people, food, music, and life experiences that will forever live inside our hearts and memories. The PFC band features 9 musicians from 9 countries and our Lebanese guests made it 10. The 1,000 plus crowd greeted us with loud applause and cheers as we took the stage and throughout the night you could see smiles, laughter, dancing, and singing—the ingredients essential for positive change and deep human connection. Our differences of religion, race, economics, and politics faded away and the music made us more united as people as we returned to the one group we are all a part of, the Human Race.

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Thank you Beirut for your amazing hospitality and more importantly for your reminder that no matter how many things in life divide us, they are never as strong as the power of music to bring us together. We are all “United” people finding our way one heart and one song at a time.

One Love,
Mark Johnson

The PFC Band is headed back to Australia!

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This year will mark the fourth consecutive year that the Playing For Change Band will grace the stage at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia. With a stellar lineup including Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, D’Angelo, Melissa Etheridge and Kendrick Lamar; this year’s Bluesfest is surely one you do not want to miss, plus you never know who just may stop by and join the PFC Band on stage! Be sure to check out one of the band’s shows below and don’t forget to stop by the PFC tent to say “hey” and grab some PFC swag.

Sydney, we have you covered as well. Catch the band in a one-night-only performance in support of the Playing For Change Foundation at The Basement on March 30th! More info here.

BYRON BAY PERFORMANCE DATES/TIMES:

Friday, March 25th – Jambalaya Stage – 9:30pm (60 mins)*
Saturday, March 26th – Delta Stage – 11:00pm (60 mins)*
Monday, March 28th – Crossroads Stage – 5:30pm (60 mins)*
 *subject to change

Check out Clarence and Tula at the PFC tent last year:

Grandpa, Tula, and Roberto let loose backstage before their Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 performance:

The fans express their appreciation to PFC band members at Byron Bay 2015:

The PFC Band performs at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015 and Super fan Dee reacts with great enthusiasm:

Super fan Jack McLean shares his inspiration about PFC backstage with Mermans Mosengo:

Grandpa Elliott and the band greet an adoring crowd at the PFC booth at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015:

Clarence Milton Bekker speaks with Paul Erickson about his extraordinary contribution to the foundation:

Australian Tour

The Playing For Change Band has recently finished one of its most amazing tours. For the first time the band hit the road in Australia, opening for Robert Plant in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney and performing 3 shows at the Bluesfest in Byron Bay, among prestigious artists such as Ben Harper, Manu Chao, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, and Iggy Pop.

The PFC crew came to record for the first time in Oceania in september 2012 through the initiative of our great friend and amazing PFC ambassador in Australia, Maurie Stang who also helped us organize the tour and play at the Blues Fest. During 2 weeks the band performed almost every day, jumping on planes and taking bus rides with a total crew of 20 people, including GrandPa Elliot, Tula, Clarence Bekker and Titi Tsira. The reaction and support of the Australian audience has been really impressive and the band will probably come back soon to Australia to bring the fire.

A booth runt by a few volunteers at the BluesFest in Byron Bay also allowed us to raise more than 25,000 USD for the Playing For Change Foundation and spread the spirit of our global movement. We also had the opportunity to film and record some of the shows during the tour, so get ready to enjoy new live videos of the PFC Band very soon.

THANK YOU AUSTRALIA AND SEE YOU SOON

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PFC claims a piece of the Tonight Show’s wall at Universal

Hello PFC Family! The PFC Band just finished taping an amazing performance here at the Tonight Show. While the rest of the crew was packing up to leave, I decided to swing by the green room one last time to make sure all our gear had been collected.  On my way there, I passed by a massive mural of signatures from former Tonight Show guests. Out of the corner of my eye, I was thrilled to see a number of autographs from Playing For Change staking claim to a previously undecorated portion of the wall. Mo’ Faya!

And now, we’re off to celebrate Grandpa Elliott’s birthday. More to come…