Local promoter talks about the role of Hideaway benefit concerts

Brandon Paykamian • Nov 15, 2019 at 6:21 PM

Local resident Jordan Cashen, 28, has been booking concerts at downtown Johnson City’s Hideaway for about six years now, and recently, some of those shows were organized to support charitable and political causes.

Earlier this month, Cashen set out to help promote a show for a unique cause — donating free skateboards to kids in foster care.

On Nov. 1, Cashen helped organize a concert featuring local bands Povertybomb, Intimidator, Aghori Skin Suit, Breach and Paleblood, marking the beginning of Adoption Awareness Month. Proceeds from the $5 donations were used to buy skateboards from MOJO Skate Shop for foster children.

“In the past, we’ve just taken the money and donated it directly to whatever organization, and they could use it for whatever they needed,” Cashen said. “But for this one, we partnered with both MOJO, who had matched a lot of the donations given, and Youth Villages, which helped the donations stretch a lot further.

“We raised $389 total in the end, and we bought five complete skateboards — trucks, wheels, etc. — and a guy named Steven Schneider donated 11 skateboard decks, but we raffled off three of them during the show and sold one of them to the Hideaway and added that money to the total amount,” he explained, adding that seven decks were also contributed in the effort.

Cashen recently reached out to the Press to tell us about fundraisers such as these, starting with some fast facts about himself.

Cashen Briefly:

Favorite local musicians: “I can’t name one favorite local band, but I like Nerve Endings, Dullside, the Kindest People and Povertybomb.”

Favorite restaurant: “I don’t eat out at sit down restaurants very often, but Cook Out is probably my favorite place to go.”

Cats or dogs: Has two cats

Occupation: BAE in Kingsport

Interesting fact: Vegetarian

What made you decide to organize this benefit concert?

I used to skate when I was younger, and skateboarding has always meant a lot to me. I still go to the skatepark every now and then and push around a little, but my joints aren’t what they used to be. I think of it as more of an art or creative expression than a sport. There’s no expectation of being good. You learn at your own pace and your style of skating reflects your personality, in a way. It’s sort of an outlet, too. Whatever was going on in my life, I could just go skate and get my head straight. I made lots of friends through skateboarding, all from various backgrounds, which gave me a strong support system that I otherwise would not have had if I didn’t skate. I learned perseverance, I learned self-discipline, and I learned to think about the world a lot differently. I wanted other kids to have all of that too, but skateboards are expensive.

Why was the Hideaway the venue of choice?

The Hideaway has done more for local bands than any other venue in the Tri-Cities. Tarvo (the venue’s manager) does his best to make sure it’s a welcoming and inclusive space that really feels like a home for a lot of us. Most shows are organized by locals that might be in bands themselves, and everything feels really DIY. It's a “for musicians by musicians” type of thing. No one is trying to get rich off of being a promoter, we all just want to have space to further develop artistically and as a community. Without the Hideaway, there would be no local punk or metal scene. It’s hard to explain, but it was just a no-brainer.

The Hideaway has put on a lot of benefit concerts recently. Tell us about what these mean to you

I’ve organized the last three benefits. I was trying to put them together about once a month, but due to work and lack of time, the next one might not happen for at least a couple of months, unless someone else has one in the works. We’ve done benefits for local women’s rights organizations, immigrants that have been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and most recently, this one where we’re donating skateboards to local children. It’s been really heartening to see how the community rallies together to support these issues.

Every band I’ve reached out to has been more than willing to donate their time and effort. The turnouts have generally been great, and I think that’s because people want to feel like they’re doing something to improve the places they live in. With that said, while fundraisers can be important, they can only go so far. The people who need change the most are generally those who lack any sort of real political or economic power. If we want to make a real change in our communities, it’s going to take a lot of people getting organized and taking care of each other outside of the confines of a punk show.

Are you planning on helping put together any other benefit concerts in the future?

Absolutely. It’s a blast putting them together, and I’m hoping we can keep building towards bigger and better things. I’ve had some ideas floating around, but it’s hard to focus on everything while I’m at work, so I’m taking some time away from booking shows to flesh them out.

What other benefit concert ideas do you have?

I would like to see the energy from those that attend these benefits being transferred into a stronger organizational structure. Getting working people organized to address issues of poverty and income inequality is important, so maybe in the future, someone could set something up to give some financial support to an organization that’s attempting to build power among working families, but that would require such an organization to exist in the first place.