Sometimes the only stories you here about a certain genre of music is negative. That’s not always the case. Charity in rock can happen.

Author’s note: This piece is the beginning of a series I would like to add to with other amazing stories of how rock, and other genres of music, has helped or is helping a cause out for the benefit of everyone involved. If you are in the know of an event or of someone in music that needs a little recognition for their selfless giving, please let me know. Comments are welcomed at the end of the article.

Desmond Dukes is a Michigan based musician that was living the dream until family health issues made their unfortunate presence felt. Not known for being shy, the former lead singer in Cyk Cylinder, is now taking that same energy towards fighting kidney disease in all of its forms. He took a few minutes out of planning for the event to talk with National Rock Review.

NRR: From what I see, this is the 2nd year you are holding this event. Tell me about it and how does it personally related to you?
Desmond Dukes: It started when my wife Kris was just a volunteer for the Kidney Foundation. She works for them now. It was my first walk for any charity and it was in Lansing, MI. And I had such a great time. But I was unaware there are many kidney walks in Michigan. So I had this idea of, what if we could find away to raise money for her team? Every walk there are teams that host little fundraisers like bake sales, or a car wash, or hold some type of small event, which all the money raised from that team is giving to the Foundation. And with me being in a band during that time I can help put it together. And that was when “Rock The Walks” was born. This event is personal in two ways. One, my wife, Kris, has a kidney disease and actually had one removed. Other friends of mine such as Michael Jennings also has kidney issues. And two, supporting a cause, any cause, that you believe in and that has effected you in some way is so important. And I think everyone needs to believe in a cause that has touched them is some way or another.
NRR: Tell me about the bands you have playing? How hard was it to find acts to fill the stage for this event?
Desmond Dukes: That’s a good question. For me at times, it was difficult because you want to bring in the best bands you can possibly acquire. So I have to look at who can be available for that date, and if they are even interested in doing a benefit event. They are taking time out of there schedule to basically do a event that none of the bands are getting paid for. But all the bands that I have had the honor of getting for this event have been nothing shy of amazing. And they want to do it. And I thank every single one of them for doing it.
NRR: You have a musical background. Is that how the genesis of this event started?
Desmond Dukes: It was more of an influence to want to start it. When I was in the band Cyk Cylinder, I had the pleasure of meeting bands from all over that I have gotten to know and enjoy sharing the stage with. And staying humble to them and myself definitely helped.
NRR: Continued success is always the goal, but what would you like to accomplish most with this yearly event?
Desmond Dukes: To get more people to be aware of this disease and the steps they can take to prevent it or deal with it. That hope can help, no matter how bad a situation. Plus I want people and fans of music to just have fun and be happy.
NRR: If the readers wanted to help out your cause, what could they do to help out?
Desmond Dukes: They can donate to The Kidney Foundation for this event even if they are not in attendance. Continue to support local bands that support this event and help make this event bigger every year.
NRR: How has the music community helped to rally around your cause?
Desmond Dukes: Fans and bands have helped promote it, along with local businesses as well, such as The Foundry.
NRR: Tell me about the venue, how did they come aboard with this project? Has their support be a blessing to the fundraiser?
Desmond Dukes: The Foundry has been, and always will be, the staple for music since it opened. My band has played there a number of times. Patrick, JB, Wendy and others have been just the greatest people in the world. And the fact that they took a chance on my family’s cause is an enormous blessing. The Foundry truly is the place to be for all music.
NRR: On a musical career note, what are you up to, any new projects coming up that you’d share with us?
Desmond Dukes: I have some music I have been working on, well more so getting back to, since I left Cyk Cylinder. I hope to finish them after this event. I miss the stage and I miss the fans. But what I have been working on [material] is something I started a long time ago that I now have an opportunity to finish. So I hope soon. It’s something different that only a few people have heard.
NRR: Are there plans to make this event happen next year and beyond?
Desmond Dukes: That is the big million dollar question. I can not forsee the future. But I truly hope that it returns every year. With continued support from not just the community, but beyond. The Foundation itself has been supporting this event from the beginning and I thank them for that. So we want people there, we want people to recognize the trust and respect this event has brought to everyone. And keep it’s reputation high and strong.
NRR: Is there anything I might have missed that you’d like to say about this event?
Desmond Dukes: Nope, I’d say say we’re golden. Thank you for this opportunity to speak about it. It’s greatly appreciated.

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For those in the Jackson, MI area that would like to help out this event, the details are listed below.

Second Annual ROCK THE WALKS, benefiting The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is Apr 25, 2015 at The Foundry in Jackson, MI. The hours are from 7:00pm-2:00am. There will be a 50/50 raffle, band merchandise, and more. Live performances by The Novella, Harlow, Veilside, and Ghost In The Attic. Admission is $5.00 and ticket pre-sale is also available for the same price.

National Kidney Foundation
Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Foundry
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Harlow
Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Novella
Facebook

Veilside
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Ghost In The Attic
Website | Facebook | Twitter

About The Author

After getting the photo bug in the far, past days of black and white film, Erich continued to develop his eye for photography which lead to stops in the sporting, art, wedding, and eventually concert music worlds. Now, doing more writing for National Rock Review, he has entered into the journey of getting to know the artists and the industry, not just the faces on the other side of the lens.

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