A Festival of the Heart & Soul, the annual charity event that Mick Sterling first became involved with in the fall of 1994, has taken on some new charities and a slightly different direction this year. The end result is a series of fund raising events all designed to help children. Below is an interview recently conducted with Heart and Soul founder Mick Sterling where he talks about the changes and direction of this annual event.
Ray: What are some of the changes this year?
Mick: The biggest change is that Heart and Soul is helping three different children's Charities. Camp Heartland decided that they wanted to conduct their own fund raising so we decided that we wanted to continue to help other children's charities that need our help. And we were very happy to find out that there were a lot of charities that wanted the help of Heart and Soul. This year the 3 charities that we are backing are the Boys and Girls Clubs, The TJ Martell Foundation, which is a national medial research company for cancer, HIV and Aids for adults and kids, and Project Success which is based in the Twin City area that helps a lot of the Minneapolis school district kids. So we've branched out quite a bit with these new charities.
With the 3 new charities coming on board for Heart and Soul, its allowed us to expand Heart and Soul out to a whole new audience. Project Success alone reaches 10,000 school age kids which is something we've never been able to do before so we're excited about it.
Ray: How did you select these charities and decide you wanted to represent them?
Mick: We wanted to continue to help kids but we wanted to reach out and help more kids and those 3 organizations are pretty well established here. Its going to be helping a lot of kids.
Ray: What led Camp Heartland to their decision to do their own fundraising and how did that affect what you wanted to do.
Mick: It was a big surprise. Even after the disastrous weather we had last year on Sunday we still were able to send almost $80,000 to the camp. So when they made the decision it was surprising. Honestly it threw us for a loop for about a month and a half. But we felt that the event was strong enough and we had built a lot of good will in the city and there are a lot of charities that would want our help. Our goal has always been to help kids. Heart and Soul has always been a separate 501c3 from Camp Heartland and they were never in any financial risk…it was all a gift. I don't quite understand either but that was their decision and I wish them the best.
Ray: Do you plan on doing the fund raising the same as you did in the past with just the different charities involved…Heart and Soul is the same, other than the charity it benefits?
Mick: Everything is the same, all the proceeds will be evenly split between the 3 charities. Heart and Soul is unique in that all the proceeds go to actually help kids, I don't know if there is another festival like this that's specifically just for kids in the Twin Cities. We're proud of that.
Ray: What are the other fund raising events that you have other than the two day festival coming up in May?
Mick: Our black tie gala is on May 17, at the Depot on Washington Ave. (the new ice rink) with Guy Davis. On May 18 is going to be the Ride with Heart & Soul., our second annual motorcycle rally. It will leave from St. Paul Harley Davidson at 10 am on Saturday. We will know the destination soon (see the website for more details and how to sign up: www.soul4kids.com). We are raffling off a 2002 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle. Which is huge. [The rally won't be stopping at the festival site like it did last year]
Ray: How is the music festival set up this year?
Mick: We're going back to the way it was two years ago now that Washington Avenue is wide open again. We will have the one big outdoor stage against the side of Bunkers and the second stage will be inside Bunker's Music Bar and Gill. There won't be any tent this year. The kids and family play and activity area will be about the same as last year.
Ray: To help you select new bands to play on the indoor Bunker's stage you held a series of band contests, tell me about that.
Mick: There's going to be 34 bands performing that weekend (May 18 and 19, 2002). The band contest that we did…we had over 100 bands that submitted material and we chose 16 bands out of those hundred and then had 4 bands play at 4 different clubs. Then the band that drew the most fans at each club won a slot inside Bunker's for the actual Heart and Soul festival. 4 bands won those slots. Each club had about 300 people, on a weekday night that's amazing. We had a great response for some bands that a lot of people are familiar with. It was a great response. It puts the incentive back with the band on how to select. You can't really judge a contest like this so the only real fair way was how many people can each band bring. It worked.
Ray: Other than Cowboy Mouth, you and G.B. Leighton, its all new bands this year?
Mick: It's all new bands. Its funny I got an email from someone today asking where is the blues? (laughs) Well if you don't think Tommy Castro, Sista Monica, Guy Davis, and Delbert McClinton isn't a great blues line up, I wanna know, what is a great blues lineup. You have to remember we're not a blues festival but I think the blues lineup we have this year stands up against anything that I've seen. As far as the main outdoor stage goes we have a lot of great acts, there's an amazing lineup this year. Sista Monica is spectacular, GB Leighton, Delbert McClinton, Cowboy Mouth, Tommy Castro, North Mississippi Allstars, Mick Sterling and the Stud Brothers, Flip, Joan Jett, The Neville Brothers. A pretty different line up compared to what we've had in the past.
Ray: I know Jonny Lang as been a part of the festival in years past…
Mick: Jonny was interested in playing but he has a new record coming out sometime in May, they don't know exactly when it is coming out and Jonny just didn't feel like he could commit to something when his schedule was so up in the air. It really depends on when his next record comes out and the major record push surrounding that. So he just felt like he couldn't commit to it. He will definitely be missed but I think it was important that the event get some fresh faces in there too. Whenever Jonny wants to come back…we would love to have him back if he is available next year.
Its going to be an amazing festival. I think musically its as strong as anything that we've ever had. Its going to be cool.
Ray: Tell me about any new recording projects you have?
Mick: I have a new CD with Kevin Bowe and the Okemah prophets called Doin' It For The People, a live CD at the Bean in Excelsior. Sounds fantastic. (www.micksterling.com or www.kevinbowe.com).
The Stud Brothers and I also have a new live CD coming out the end of March called Sunday Soul Service, recorded live at Bunker's. It has a lot of the crowd favorites and a new version of Into the Mystic. (www.micksterling.com)
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