Gram Parsons Foundation revives with concerts at SXSW
The Gram Parsons Foundation, the non-profit organization devoted to funding and education for substance abuse recovery in the music community, will relaunch with a pair of events set for Wednesday as part of the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.
The org takes its name from the influential country-rock pioneer, who died in Joshua Tree, Calif., in 1973 from a morphine overdose. It is headed by Parsons’ daughter Polly, who has faced her own struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.
“Recovery is the only way I survived my bloodline,” she says. “Everyone in my family is dead from suicide and addiction, on both sides.”
The foundation has been dormant since a pair of all-star 2004 concerts in L.A. and Santa Barbara — starring the likes of Norah Jones, Dwight Yoakam and Parsons’ close friend Keith Richards — raised nearly $100,000 for MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charitable arm.
Parsons says she decided to reactivate the foundation after “an amazing cathartic experience” operating Hickory Wind Ranch, the Austin recovery house she founded in 2009. The recent deaths of such musicians as Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse have made the enterprise all the more timely.
The foundation’s relaunch kicks off at Austin’s Hotel San Jose with a musical event from 12-8 p.m. featuring Brendan Benson with Eric Burdon, Great Lake Swimmers, Shurman, Jenny O. and the Fleet Foxes offshoot Poor Moon. A VIP fundraiser will take place there at 9 p.m.
“I’d like to do events in Los Angeles and New York next, and then follow that up with London,” Parsons says.