He Speaks To Teens Through Punk Rock Music

Date: July 21, 2015

Location: The Crux, on the floor, in between sets

I did NOT expect to be overwhelmed by emotion at a no-name concert at a random coffee house in Boise that I had never heard of. I honestly didn’t pay much attention at all to the artist or the details of this trip, I just let Julia make the plans and begrudgingly fulfilled the commitment I made to bring her to the show.

Imagine my surprise when the first performer blows my mind.

This dorky looki20150721_190610ng dude (who reminds me of Jonah Hill) performs original tunes acoustically. He travels under the band name, “The Homeless Gospel Choir” so I genuinely was surprised to see a solo artist. His first song was described as a protest song, and I found myself moved to tears by his lyrics and the heartfelt delivery. Each subsequent song was also a protest song and I soon realized that this man, Derek Zanetti, has a message… his delivery method is a guitar and punk rock.

I looked around the room at this eclectic coffee shop full of mostly teenagers with wild colored hair wearing either Vans or Converse, who have found a place where they feel they belong – where they are accepted exactly as they are – listening to a message of complete and unconditional equality.

He channels a powerful message speaking out against any kind of -ism that discriminates and segregates. His method is REACHING these kids… teaching them to reject the authority that preaches that they must do and be certain things in order to be worthy of love, affection, and validation.

This lovable dork, on the stage, is inspiring an entire segment of this generation to live authentically – to expand their hearts and awareness to include everyone – I couldn’t help it… I cried five separate times during his 45 minute set.

The tears were recognition of the power in his message, as well as the angst and emotional pain that served as the catalyst for him to write the songs, providing his drive to share this message. I cried out of admiration and respect for his total dedication to reaching those who are hurting. I cried because there’s more I can and should be doing and it’s time I got my head back in the game.

20150721_212806I cried because of Julia, my kick ass daughter, listening to this message, crying along with me, while I pondered what great and wonderful things she will be inspired to accomplish in her lifetime because she gets this kind of validation at her young age. She’s got support – and I’m in awe at what will unfold in her lifetime because she resonates so deeply with this message of equality.

I cried for all those in the audience who needed to hear the lyrics sung and the words that were spoken – delicate subjects addressed through acoustic music – holy shit, it’s brilliant.

Not to mention, the energy in the room has been palpable all evening. I could FEEL the emotion from Derek… as well as the recognition from the audience… punk rock kids (who appear to those who like to sit in self-righteous judgment as rebels or problem kids) responding to a solo performer with cheers, heartfelt appreciation, and hope… this is not a random concert on a Tuesday evening, it’s a life-changing event.

These kids, this audience, they’ve been validated at their core, by someone who is perceived to have some street cred due to his music career and being on tour with Frank Iero. They’ve received a message of encouragement, support, belonging, FAMILY. Topics covered included losing loved ones, feeling like outcasts, being different, having a different perspective, suicidal tendencies, etc. Each topic approached with the same candor and genuine care – YOU MATTER. You are valuable. You are loved. You are included.

And here come the tears again.

Check out The Homeless Gospel Choir. Show some support on Derek’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.