The reality of depression and suicide has inspired artists to take part in the PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR, a music tour committed to reducing the stigma associated with mental health as well as making the access to help and hope for all safe and without fear.
Houston-based art rockers Blue October will headline the inaugural PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR -- where impassioned artists join together to raise awareness and funds for depression and suicide prevention -- and Atlanta-based hip-hop artist and producer B.o.B will open on the trek.
The PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR marks the first-ever tour solely benefitting suicide prevention in history. The month-long trek will launch Thursday, October 22nd at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC and wrap up with a two-night stand at Stubbs in Austin, TX November 20 and 21. See the full PUTP tour itinerary below; tickets are on sale now. To purchase, visit: www.putp.org and http://www.blueoctoberfan.com/pickupthephone/.
The PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR will launch with a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC Wednesday, October 21 at 10:00 AM. Justin Furstenfeld, the lead singer of Blue October, will be on hand to speak and perform an acoustic set before members of Congress as well as supporters of the tour partners 1-800 SUICIDE, PostSecret and TWLOHA.
Justin -- who has struggled with bi-polar disorder most of his life -- will be calling on Congress to fund both creative writing and art therapy programs as alternative options for mental health. The press conference will also urge Congress to fully fund the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act which provides the funding behind the majority of the suicide prevention programs in the United States today. The press conference is open to all on a first-come first-served basis, to RSVP, email TWLOHA: PUTP@TWLOHA.com.
The PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR is created through a partnership between the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), the largest charity on MySpace and Facebook: Postsecret.com; Synclive.com; and 1-800 SUICIDE The National Hopeline Network. Through 1-800 SUICIDE--which provides a life-saving service that is private and confidential for people in need--callers are routed directly to the closest crisis center in their immediate area so that quick referrals to behavioral health services and other supports can be offered. Since 1998, 1-800-SUICIDE has received over 3.6 million calls and rescued more than 4,000 individuals who had already initiated suicide plans.
The spokesperson for the PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR 2009, Justin Furstenfeld personally understands the struggles those who are affected by mental health issues face on a daily basis.
“It has taken 20 years to have the chance to do a tour focusing on mental health issues which have been a daily battle for me for most of my life,” explains Justin. “It’s great to finally be a part of a positive, progressive-thinking tour for an important cause which will make a direct impact and help people in desperate situations that need it the most.”
In a strange turn of events in his own life, Justin worked at a mental hospital one day and, after suffering a breakdown, became a patient in a hospital the next. Justin -- who has taken medication for the condition since he was a teenager -- now teaches creative writing at a mental hospital to young adults affected by mental health issues, self-abuse issues and sexual abuse.
Through personal experiences and music, Justin challenges young minds to channel their emotions and anger into creative writing and art versus taking their frustrations out on themselves or the world around them. He performs his art around the world, sending a message of hope to thousands who know and trust his message because he fights the same battles they fight every day. Justin is living proof that if you reach out and allow yourself to be helped you can lead a beautiful life filled with love, family and career.
“In moments of bravery and confusion and honesty, people turn to 1-800-SUICIDE--over three million of them,” points out Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). “The folks at the Hopeline Centers have been answering those calls for ten years, picking up the phone when it's mattered most. Now to help those who will not pick up the phone, together with 1-800-SUICIDE we are launching the first 24x7 online emotional support network called AliveIM!, which will soon be available at www.suicide.net.”
To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) -- a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide -- exists to encourage, inform and inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. Since 2006, TWLOHA has responded to over 100,000 messages from people in over 40 different countries and have invested over half a million dollars directly into treatment and recovery, including $50,000 to help fund the AliveIM! support network.
In another innovative move, the tour has partnered with Synclive.com to air live performances from the artists via the Internet as well as provide an immediate online confidential connection for fans in need. Synclive.com will create an essential connection for concertgoers in crisis who are unable to approach a booth at the show in-person either for direct help or to volunteer for the online counseling program.
Formed in Houston in 1995, the rock five–piece Blue October have released five studio albums and sold over 2 million albums. The group released their fifth studio album Approaching Normal (Universal Motown), the follow-up to their 1.3 million-selling Foiled album; it spawned the hit “Hate Me,” which reached #2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, followed by "Into the Ocean," a # 1 video on VH1 about a the metaphorical contemplation of suicide itself. Approaching Normal debuted at # 13 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart in March 2009 and produced two top singles: “Dirt Room,” which rocketed to #6 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart marking the group’s third Top Ten singl, and “Say It.”
Blue October is Justin Furstenfeld (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Jeremy Furstenfeld (drums, percussion), Ryan Delahoussaye (violin/viola, mandolin, piano, backing vocals), C.B. Hudson (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Matt Noveskey (bass guitar, backing vocals). Due to their hard-won and loyal fanbase, the group now tours all over the world. Check out www.blueoctober.com and www.myspace.com/blueoctober.
Hailing from Atlanta, B.o.B. also known as Bobby Ray is a hotly-tipped hip-hop artist and producer who will release his debut album The Adventures of Bobby Ray via T.I.’s label Grand Hustle (Atlantic Records) in 2009. B.o.B. appeared on the covers of XXL and Vibe magazines as was hailed as part of “Hip-Hop’s class of ‘09” (XXL, 12/08). B.o.B describes his music as a fusion of influences ranging from 80’s, techno, rock, funk and du-wop. Check out www.bobatl.com and www.myspace.com/bobatl.
Recently, acclaimed actor James Earl Jones recorded a Public Service announcement for the PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR; click here to view:
Pick Up The Phone Tour 2009 with Blue October and B.o.B:
Capitol Hill-PUTP Press Conference
Music Farm (no B.o.B.)
Hilton Head, SC
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
House of Blues
The Ritz (Ybor City)
House of Blues - “10th Anniversary Reason To Live Concert” with Cracker
House of Blues
House of Blues
Partners for the first-ever PICK UP THE PHONE TOUR 2009 include:
About the National Hopeline Network 1-800 SUICIDE (784-2433) and the Kristin Brooks Hope Center (KBHC):
After losing his wife, Kristin Brooks to suicide in 1998, Reese Butler founded the Kristin Brooks Hope Center (KBHC), which created the National Hopeline Network 1-800 SUICIDE. In 2000, Reese gained the support of the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and obtained more than seven million dollars to expand and support the National Hopeline Network which is comprised of 200 community crisis centers in 48 states. Callers in crisis to 1800-SUICIDE are routed to the closest crisis center in their immediate area so that quick referrals to behavioral health services and other supports can be offered. Since 1998, 1-800-SUICIDE has received more than 3 million calls and rescued more than 4,000 individuals who had already initiated suicide plans. www.hopeline.com
About To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA):
In 2006, Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story, a glimpse into a friend’s life and her first steps to recovery from drug addiction, self-injury, and depression. The story, titled To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), and t-shirts Tworkowski printed to help pay for his friend’s recovery, started a movement, not only within his local Orlando, FL community, but one that was swiftly embraced by people everywhere. Realizing a strong need to bring these mental health issues to light, Jamie created TWLOHA--a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide--and enlisted bands such as Paramore, Thrice, Anberlin, Switchfoot, Bayside, The Almost to spread TWLOHA’s message. Jamie and TWLOHA joined national and international touring bands spreading their message of hope before bands took the stage each night. In August 2007, MySpace awarded TWLOHA the winner of their “Impact Award” for “Community Building,” TWLOHA garnered the most votes in the history of the Impact Awards. To Write Love on Her Arms began with one broken girl, one painful night; addiction, depression, self-injury. It is the realization of what life can be when people commit to meeting a need. “A friend of mine told me there is no such thing as suicide prevention. This is an attempt to prove him wrong, to say that love can change a life. We can hold back the darkness. Rescue is possible,” says Tworkowski. www.twloha.com
Synclive.com is a highly interactive music and entertainment Internet community that allows users to broadcast their live performances, as they happen, over the Internet to a worldwide audience. Synclive.com is currently reaching 127 countries with over 1 million video views a month. Shows can be broadcast from anywhere, at anytime. Synclive.com offers artists a tremendous promotional platform for worldwide exposure. It is a great way to promote new music, a new tour, new merchandise, and stay intimately connected with your fans. Shows are streamed live, recorded and stored at the artist’s discretion for future on demand viewing. Our most used tool is the embedded player which allows an artist’s live and on demand shows to be placed on all of their websites so fans can watch the show in the artist’s environment. Synclive.com is free for artists, fans, and venues to use and is open to all genres of music and live entertainment. www.synclive.com
Called “the most trusted stranger in America,” Frank Warren is the sole founder and curator of the PostSecret Project: A collection of nearly 500,000 highly personal and artfully decorated postcards mailed anonymously from around the world, displaying the soulful secrets we never voice. The PostSecret.com site now receives more than 1,000,000 visitors every week. In 2005, the All-American Rejects approached Warren about using images of actual PostSecret images in their “Dirty Little Secret” music video. They offered Warren $1,000, but Warren instead asked them to donate $2,000 to 1800-SUICIDE where Warren is a volunteer. The donation was made and the music video became one of the most requested on MTV. The National Mental Health Association presented Warren with an award for his work in raising public awareness of Suicide. The PostSecret project has now raised over $210,000 for 1800-SUICIDE. PostSecret was awarded the December 2008 “Myspace Impact Award” and donated 100% of the proceeds to 1-800 SUICIDE. Look for the new PostScret book titled Confessions on Life, Death and God due out October 6. www.postsecret.com