You could wait until the Newport Folk Festival in July, or you could jump at the chance to see Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons this Friday, April 20, and support a good cause at the same time. Friday is the second annual benefit concert for the MS Dream Center of Rhode Island, and Fletcher is headlining.
“They’ve been getting a lot of attention locally, regionally and nationally, and anything we can do to publicize the Dream Center we’re happy to do,” said Brett Davey, a board member of the MS Dream Center, a facility that engages people with multiple sclerosis. Davey’s wife was diagnosed with MS three years ago.
The Dream Center is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and is located at the Pastore Youth Center in Cranston. Programs include a book club, exercise classes, yoga and tai chi, reflexology and massage, art programs, and educational classes in computer skills, American Sign Language, Spanish and more. Members of the center who suffer from multiple sclerosis run some of the classes.
“People still want to feel like they can contribute,” Davey said.
Once a month, Dr. Sal Napoli, a neurologist, visits the center to speak about the disease. Often, he will bring other physicians and experts in the field.
“They speak about the latest developments in MS, whether it’s treatment or diagnostics, so I think that’s a big draw,” Davey said. “It’s really a wide scope of services.”
Most important, he said, is the camaraderie that develops. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that can manifest differently in patients, but many people diagnosed with MS experience numbness in the extremities and even loss of mobility. These symptoms can lead to isolation, which is exactly what the MS Dream Center wants to stop from happening.
“The big thing for people to understand is that MS is just something that you have. The message is for people to continue living life and embrace being around other people,” Davey said. “The idea is to create both a support network and also an avenue for people to have social interaction and make new friends. It gives them a feeling of hope.”
In order to keep these services available, the Dream Center is hosting Friday’s benefit. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children, and the concert will start at 7 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School. This year’s headliner, Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons, can be seen at local venues like The Met in Pawtucket, but also travel around the country doing shows.
“We are pleased to welcome Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons for what promises to be a great night of music,” Donald Perna, chairman of the board of the MS Dream Center, said in a release. “Proceeds from the fundraiser will help us continue in our mission of providing services and support to individuals with MS, as well as their family members and loved ones.”
Landing a spot on the Folk Festival schedule is a dream come true for the band.
“We’re really thrilled; it’s something I’ve been hoping for, for a long time,” said front man Joe Fletcher.
His sound is difficult to describe, but one that he says “tips a hat” to many different bands and genres of music.
“It’s kind of a blend of a lot of different types of American music; there’s definitely a rock influence and a folk influence and a blues influence and a strong country influence,” Fletcher explained. “It all comes out, hopefully, in an original blend of all these different forms.”
Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons have been around since 2005, and by chance met Davey when he produced a music video for a mutual friend. Davey had heard Fletcher play before, and soon reached out to him to see if he would be interested in shooting a music video. The two have been good friends ever since.
“He’s a really nice guy; we hit it off,” Fletcher said, adding that the music video Davey put together had more than 10,000 views online within the first week. He has since turned to Davey for another music video and will soon film another from the band’s most recent album, “White Lighter.”
“We had never done anything like that before. We threw caution to the wind and got together,” Fletcher said.
And when Fletcher learned of Davey’s involvement with the MS Dream Center, he was more than happy to help.
“We owe him big time so we’re happy to do it and we’re excited to be able to do something to help him out,” he said. “It’s just a good cause and it’s something that negatively affects a lot of people.”
Having a live audience of up to 200 people is an added bonus.
“We have a really good reputation as a live band and that’s what we like to do best. Playing for people, especially new audiences, is what it’s all about,” Fletcher said.
As a fan, Davey said Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons will definitely deliver on stage Friday.
“He’s an unbelievably electric performer,” he said. “You get every penny’s worth.”
Tickets to the benefit concert can be purchased online at msdreamcenter.org, can be picked up at the Dream Center on Mondays and Wednesdays, or are available at the door the night of the show. To learn more, call 258-0162. For more information on Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons, visit www.joefletchermusic.com.