Leave a Lasting Mark – 13 Years of NYC’s Indie Music Scene Teaming Up for Charitable Causes
When Sam Teichman curated his first Leave a Lasting Mark show in October of 2010 he couldn’t have imagined what the charity-based concert featuring musicians from NYC’s indie music scene would become.
“It was really in my head as a one night only thing,” he says, “In fact, the flyer for the event said ‘One night only – Born to Run performed by New York’s independent musicians.’” The show supported the charity Team Continuum, which Teichman had been raising money for.
Thirteen years, nearly 100 shows – featuring close to 1,000 artists – and over $100k raised for charitable organizations later, it’s turned out to be a bit more than just “one night only.”
The next Leave a Lasting Mark show will be held on October 26th at their home base, the legendary Greenwich Village venue The Bitter End, and feature an eclectic group of NYC-based indie artists performing the music of 1993. Titled Dreamlover: The Hits of ‘93, all the proceeds from the show – including the $20 ticket price (purchase tix here), and all donations made at the venue – will go to the Children of Bellevue, which initiates, funds, and develops programs for the over 50,000 kids who receive care at Bellevue Hospital in NYC.
While the artists will be inspired by the music of 1993, for Teichman, conceiving Leave a Lasting Mark was originally inspired by a marathon, and a few key musical moments in the city.
On Your Marks …
Before Teichman was throwing concerts for charity, he was running marathons for charity, specifically the New York City marathon, using his legs to fundraise, and raise awareness.
At the same time, he was also becoming part of the indie music scene in NYC’s Lower East Side as a videographer, and photographer covering local acts.
It didn’t take long for Teichman to see the connection between the local scene, and charitable causes.
“Over the course of about three months I was involved with Craig Greenberg in a charity fundraiser at Brooklyn Bowl for the earthquakes in Chile. Then the earthquakes in Haiti happened, and a massive fundraiser happened at City Winery that had a who’s who of the NYC scene at the time.”
As Teichman was ruminating on this, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place at a show at The Bitter End.
“Greg Mayo invited Martin Rivas’ band to do a double bill at The Bitter End, and after those two bands played, the two bands, and some friends, recreated Abbey Road cover to cover. It was Greg’s birthday, it was around the album’s 40th anniversary, (and) it was a really good, fun, collaborative night.”
For Teichman it was a light bulb moment. “I realized I knew all these bands from all over NYC that filmed with me that maybe didn’t know each other, so I thought – what if I did an event where I had some people I knew come together, and play? We’d give all the money to the charity that I’m fundraising for, have a good time, and that’s that.”
Of course, there could only be one stage for this show – The Bitter End.
An NYC Landmark Becomes Home In a Very NYC Way
Teichman’s relationship with The Bitter End began the night he brought his camera with him to record a set by Martin Rivas. He remembers, “I ask the door guy, ‘Am I allowed to film?’ He said, ‘Yeah, but ask the waitress where to stand.’ The waitress being Anne Tutty, legend at the club, had been there forever. Anne says to me, ‘There’s a little spot over there in the corner, keep your tripod tight, don’t get in my way,’ and spent the entire night intentionally bumping into my shoulder, just to mess with me.”
Understanding the good natured ribbing, and light hazing he was experiencing, Teichman took it all in stride, and that made all the difference in the world.
“When the night was over, and I went to leave, and thank the door guy, Anne comes over and goes, ‘This guy’s the nicest guy. I was a jerk to him all night, and he didn’t say two words. He can come in anytime he wants.’”
Teichman became a fixture at the venue. He couldn’t even walk by it without someone pulling him in to see an artist. This is why when it came time to throw what he thought would be the one and only Leave a Lasting Mark show, he approached then owner, Kenny Gorka with a proposition – “If I take a weeknight, and do it later, and I promise it’ll be crowded …”
He didn’t realize it, but he could’ve stopped right there. Gorka was in. According to Teichman, Gorka said, “Yeah, you hang with good people. Bring the good people.”
Teichman brought the good people, and began what would become the show’s traditional on stage rotation of artists. “We play three to five songs,” he explains, “then the backing band changes out, and a new band gets on stage. The singers rotate song by song.”
The place was packed, the music was great, and money was raised for charity.
Teichman was pleased with a job well done, but he didn’t realize exactly how well things had gone until the following night.
Word Spreads Fast
The night after the first – and what was originally going to be the only – Leave a Lasting Mark show Teichman was at a concert at Rockwood Music Hall. “A bunch of people I know were like, ‘Hey, that show you did, I want to play the next one.’”
All of a sudden he had artists coming to him with ideas, people volunteering to do flyers, and folks offering to donate raffle prizes.
This was no longer going to be “one night only.”
“Around three, or four shows in I realized – oh, this is a thing.”
While the show was growing, the artists involved became its greatest recruiter of talent.
Mya Byrne, who will be performing at this month’s event, remembers, “My dear friend Emily Zuzik-Holmes hipped me to Leave a Lasting Mark in 2011, telling me it was a fun thing to do and a great group of folks. Both so true!”
Max Feinstein, who’s also part of this month’s show, has a similar story. “I became aware of Leave a Lasting Mark in 2016 after some friends participated. My first concert came shortly thereafter.”
The collaborative aspect of things, and the fact that a great cause is always at the heart of each show, are both incredible draws for NYC’s indie artist community.
Doing It All For a CauseEvery Leave a Lasting Mark show is a fundraiser for a charitable cause, with Teichman having a rotation of causes, and new causes being added to that rotation on a regular basis. The fundraising, however, actually takes a backseat to other, perhaps even more important contributions being made.
In the case of this month’s charity, Children of Bellevue, he says that in addition to what will likely be around $2k raised, “What we’re doing is giving their young constituents, their volunteers, and their staff from the hospital itself a chance to get involved in a night that feels like it’s aimed at them.”
He adds it’s also, “a way to raise awareness in a community so that maybe it might resonate with an artist, or somebody in the room, and will get them involved in the future.”
Andy Mac, who’s part of this month’s show, loves that these events allow artists who aren’t mainstream millionaires to contribute to a cause in the best way they can. “Being a relatively poor musician,” he explains, “I can’t donate financially to charity nearly as much as I’d like to, but if I’m able to donate my time and talent, sign me up!”
For Byrne, experiencing the connection between music and charity became a major turning point in her career, as she says, “(The shows) enabled me to engage with charitable giving through my art for the first time, which now is a huge part of my professional life.”
While the charitable arm of Leave a Lasting Mark has the ability to effect change both in the present, and the future, the music will always take attendees to the past.
’93 ’til Infinity
This month’s Leave a Last Mark show, Dreamlover: The Hits of ‘93, will feature NYC indie artists covering songs from a litany of ‘90s faves, and everyone involved is excited for the night.
“I love ‘90s music!” Mac exclaims, “I bought my first drum set, and guitar in the ‘90s, and I get to sing, and play drums on (the Spin Doctors’ song) ‘Two Princes.’”
Feinstein is also eagerly anticipating hitting the stage, saying, “Anyone who knows me knows The Red Hot Chili Peppers are my favorite band. Their music has always been a promise of goodwill, and comradely love, and I relish any opportunity to sing their songs.”
The year 1993 is especially significant to a number of the artists involved, including Scott Stein, and Mya Byrne.
Stein says, “1993 was around the time that I started listening to music outside of what my parents played at home, so it was the beginning of my finding my musical identity. Moreover, the first album I listened to obsessively was Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales. I can't explain why that was – it sure didn't make me popular among my grunge-loving classmates – but all these years later it’s still a pretty satisfying listen.”
Byrne adds, “1993 was a seminal moment in my life – I was in high school, I heard all of these songs on the radio in real time, and they were my escape, and joy in a very fraught moment of my early teenhood. It’s also a dang good year of music, and Tom Petty was always on the 45 jukebox at my local diner.”
While diner jukeboxes have sadly become a thing of the past, the music of Tom Petty has endured, as has Leave a Lasting Mark.
With “one night only” having turned into 13 years of shows, Teichman says to expect Leave a Lasting Mark to continue to leave their mark on the scene throughout 2024, with four or five shows next year.
While the legwork to put together an event can be tough, he says it’s always worth it.
“Every show there’s somebody new, even for me as the curator, and that’s part of the excitement – I’m putting 30 people who are creative, and talented, in a room, and just seeing what happens.”
What happens is good music, a good time, and support for a good cause.
Teichman says if he were to sum up the vibe he goes for each show, it’s pretty simple, he wants everyone to leave thinking – “That was fun!”
This month’s Leave a Lasting Mark event will be on October 26th. To purchase tickets, go directly to The Bitter End’s website.