Playing For Change Announces Nationwide Tour and PBS Special

After a series of shows that generated rave reviews in Los Angeles, New Orleans and the U.K., it was announced today that Playing For Change will launch a national concert tour. Kicking off Oct. 20th at The Birchmere in Washington, DC, the fall tour will bring the Playing For Change movement to over 20 cities nationwide including Town Hall in New York on Oct. 25.  The Playing For Change band features musicians from around the globe, many of whom appeared in the now ubiquitous “Stand By Me” video (which has been viewed on the internet more than 30 million times) including New Orleans based blues singer Grandpa Elliott and soul singer Clarence Bekker from Amsterdam.

Momentum has continued to build for the project as founder Mark Johnson and the musicians of Playing For Change were just named “Persons of the Week” on ABC’s “World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson.”  This honor fell on the heels of Johnson’s return from a triumphant keynote speaking appearance at the internationally renowned TED (Technology, Education & Design) Conference in Oxford, England. Playing For Change has been profiled many times nationally including NPR’s Morning Edition, CBS News Sunday Morning and PBS’ Bill Moyers Journal just to name a few. Meanwhile, the Playing For Change band recently performed a thunderous set headlining the world stage at England’s Glastonbury Festival, played before a rapturous audience at Tipitina’s, New Orleans’ landmark concert hall and returned to the place where the movement began, kicking off the Santa Monica Pier’s summer-long 100th anniversary celebration with an amazing hometown show on July 3rd.  In addition, the PFC Band has performed on NBC’s The Tonight Show twice within the last 4 months with more television appearances scheduled soon.

Grammy-winning producer/engineer/filmmaker Mark Johnson founded Playing For Change on the simple idea that the world can be connected through music. Starting in Santa Monica, California, Mark captured a performance of “Stand By Me” by legendary street blues singer Roger Ridley, then he took the show on the road. In New Orleans, he put headphones on Grandpa Elliott, who harmonized with Ridley’s soulful rendition of the song. And he didn’t stop there. Using innovative mobile technology and travelling the world, they filmed and recorded more than 100 musicians, largely outdoors, in parks, plazas and promenades, in doorways, on cobblestone streets and amid hilly pueblos.  Each captured performance created a new mix in which essentially the artists are all performing together, albeit hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

Playing For Change has been one of 2009’s most unlikely and startling cultural phenomenons. Hear Music’s two-disc CD/DVD Playing For Change – Songs Around the World, released on April 28th, stunned the music industry selling over twenty-six thousand copies in it’s first week and landing at #10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Pop chart.  This remarkable and unpredicted popular response has been driven by tens of millions of video hits, countless blogs and pure viral communication between fans and followers.  The project’s deep emotional resonance, combined with the muscle of the internet and word-of-mouth has struck a profoundly enduring chord world-wide.

A story of hope, struggle, perseverance and joy, “PLAYING FOR CHANGE: Peace Through Music” is the documentary of this unparalleled international musical collaboration and its remarkable power of redemption. It will air nationally as part of special programming airing on PBS Stations beginning August 2009 (check local listings).

Mark Johnson will continue to spread the word about the project with an appearance on PBS’ Tavis Smiley Monday, August 10th and Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, Wednesday August 12th along with a performance by Grandpa Elliot and several of the PFC band members.


Tour information:


Date City, State Venue

10/20/09           Alexandria, VA The Birchmere

10/22/09           Boston, MA Orpheum Theater

10/23/09           Northampton, MA Calvin Theater

10/24/09           Albany, NY Empire Center at the Egg

10/25/09           New York, NY Town Hall

10/27/09           Glenside, PA The Keswick

10/29/09           Annapolis, MD Ram’s Head on Stage

10/30/09           Cleveland, OH Masonic Auditorium

10/31/09           Toronto, Canada Phoenix Music Hall

11/02/09           Ann Arbor, MI The Ark

11/03/09           Chicago, IL The Park West

11/04/09           Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater

11/06/09           St. Paul, MN O’Shaunessy

11/07/09           Kansas City, MO Uptown Theatre

11/09/09           Santa Fe, NM Lensic Performing Arts Center

11/12/09           Mesa, AZ Mesa Arts Center

11/13/09           Los Angeles, CA Club Nokia

11/15/09           San Francisco, CA Palace of Fine Arts

11/17/09           Portland, OR Aladdin Theatre

11/18/09           Seattle, WA Moore Theatre

11/19/09           Vancouver, Canada Commodore Ballroom


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