The Tucson Musicians Museum's board of directors wants to ensure that the beat goes on in the Old Pueblo, and hopes the Fifth Annual Celebration of Music and Culture Charity Event will help accomplish that mission.
"There are a lot of little pockets of musicians here in town that I think people have forgotten about or are not aware of, and many of them are world-renowned," said museum co-founder George Howard. "We are blessed to have this wonderful collection of musicians, and we wanted to make sure they are not forgotten and that their hard work and contributions don't go unrecognized."
Howard and Susan French founded the museum five years ago to perpetuate Tucson's musical culture and heritage.
It will induct several musicians at the charity event, which is Sept. 11.
Honoring accomplished musicians is just one purpose of the "functional" museum, according to Howard. It is also dedicated to providing emergency assistance for local musicians in need and maintaining a mentorship program "that functions like the Boys & Girls Club of music" for aspiring young musicians from low-income families.
"We pair up the elders with talented and deserving students who want to preserve the heritage and culture of Tucson and grow their musical interests," said Ruben Moreno, director of the museum's mentorship program.
He co-founded Mariachi Arizona at the University of Arizona and helped establish mariachi programs at several area high schools.
"We don't want to become a bunch of grizzled veterans: We have something to give back. We can preserve and conserve the music that we have been joyously playing all these years," Moreno said.
The mentorship program serves about a dozen local young people ages 17 to 19, providing financial assistance with instruments and lessons, as well as one-on-one or group instruction. The mentors also act as role models for the young people, most of whom live in single-parent households.
"Music is the vehicle with which we want to pass on the culture and teach the real lessons of life and human interactions that can't be taught on a chalkboard or white board or learned in a classroom: relationship lessons, how to be a team player, how to earn your way and the persistence and hard work it takes to get through the land mines to success," Moreno said.
Francisco Castro, 17, has reaped the benefits of Moreno's experience in the mentorship program for a year.
The Catalina Magnet High School senior, who plays guitar and sings with the band Herradura, said mariachi is something that defines him. He described Moreno as an awesome instructor who is open-minded about new music.
"He is a great person and a great musician," Castro said. "He is teaching us study habits and techniques, and even though he is part of the older generation, he manages to teach the tradition of mariachi and incorporate the new generation of mariachi music, which is a little different than what he used to play. It is real cool that he listens to us and accepts our opinions."
Overall, Castro said, the lessons he has learned from Moreno about music have carried over into everyday life and influenced his behavior and priorities.
"It is not just about playing the right notes. It is about playing with passion and enthusiasm," Castro said. "He is not only teaching us music, but about personality and character and how to be better people at the same time."
If you go
• What: Fifth Annual Tucson Musicians Museum Celebration of Music and Culture Charity Event
• When: 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 11
• Where: JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
• Cost: $40 per person
• Etc.: The event include hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, live and silent auctions, and live music from 2011 Tucson Musicians Museum inductees (including a live feed of Howe Gelb from Iceland) and mariachi by the youth band Herradura.
• For tickets or more information go to www.tucsonmusiciansmuseum.org or call 258-8631. Tickets are also available at the 17th Street Market, 830 E. 17th St., and at The Chicago Store at 130 E. Congress St. and 7030 E. Broadway.
The Tucson Musicians Museum will induct several musicians in various genres for 2011 at the upcoming fundraiser: Bryan Dean, blues; Toni Clark-Fathera, country; Jose Yebra, mariachi; Carl Cherry II, gospel; Richard J. Leek, classical; Mike Kuhn, jazz; Tim O'Connor, country; Howe Gelb, rock; William Don Carlos, folk (Scottish bagpipe, fiddle and vocals); and David Plank for jazz. Posthumous inductees are Gerald Ptak and Ricky Dean "The Pilgrim" Pegram, both for rock.
Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at email@example.com