Giving back

It's time to help fellow musicians in need. Here's how...

Volume 119, No. 10November, 2019

Bettina Covo

Above, some of the performers who have played Jazz in the Afternoon over the past 4 years at Local 802. The series has raised over $22,000 for musicians.

(Win a Pearl drum set autographed by Bernard Purdie! Click here for details!)

Giving back to the community is a great feeling, especially when you’re helping musicians in need. The Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund was created in 1967 with the mission to provide our members and their families with reliable assistance in times of trouble due to loss of work, financial hardship, catastrophic illness, substance abuse issues, family and relationship crises and more.

Through the ERF, countless musicians have been helped by licensed social workers who provide confidential social services and monetary grants to qualifying members and their families.

If you need services, we’re here to help. But we’re also asking for your help at this time. There are several ways to help:

  • Contributions are accepted at any time at
  • Whenever you renew your Local 802 membership dues, there is an opportunity to donate to the ERF. Even $5 helps.
  • Two donation drives occur annually – one in the summer and one during the winter holidays.
  • A special notice goes out on Giving Tuesday, which this year is Dec. 3.

There have also been major ERF fundraising concerts. The first one, in 1967,  featured Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong! Then, eight years ago, Local 802 celebrated its 90th anniversary with a gala fundraiser for the ERF. Recording Vice President Andy Schwartz produced the event, which took place in the Roseland Ballroom. Pete Seeger was honored and was joined by ERF advisory board members Ray Chew, Bernard Purdie, Rosanne Cash and Paul Shaffer, along with Elmar Oliviera, Steve Earle, Darlene Love, and many other performers in a star-studded show that not only raised critical funds but also highlighted the vital services that ERF affords our members.

In recent years, the ERF has added yet another fundraising vehicle: the concert series Jazz in the Afternoon (see here for the current schedule). These performances bring together New York’s finest professional musicians who donate their time and talent for this important cause. The first of this series was presented by the 48th Street Big Band led by Roger Rhodes and the late Glen Daum on Dec. 8, 2015. Rhodes explained the simple premise of the event: “I wanted the band to have the opportunity to perform in an informal setting that was more than just an open rehearsal. And the ERF needed new sources of fundraising. It was an ideal match.” Using the band’s personal contact lists, a prestigious group of friends and colleagues were invited. The enthusiastic attendees gave generously at the door, enjoyed a wonderful concert performed by seasoned 802 musicians and had the opportunity to socialize afterwards with some food and beverages. The event was a huge success – and Jazz in the Afternoon was born.

Rhodes has continued to perform at Jazz in the Afternoon shows. He recently reminded us that 2019 is the band’s fourth year playing benefits for the ERF. “We work hard to get a good audience there each and every time – and the results speak for themselves,” he said. “We’ve raised much-needed funds and shared great music with our audience. It feels good all around.”

What began as a simple way to receive donations while enjoying some of the best music in NYC has blossomed into a full-fledged concert series with almost 50 shows to its credit. The series has raised in total over $22,000. Bandleaders have included Memo Acevedo, Roger Blanc, Kevin Blancq, George Brandon, David Chamberlain, Lou Caputo, Dominic Derasse, Wally Dunbar, Jay Leonhart, Steve Karmen, Russ Kassoff, Ross Kratter, Sherrie Maricle, Ed Palermo, Frank Perowsky, Roger Rhodes, Greg Ruvolo, Bill Warfield and Ron Wasserman. Akua Nixon and Russ Anixter will be performing later this month (see here). Huge thanks go out to all of them as well as the many musicians who make up the individual bands, too numerous to name by person. The ERF is beyond grateful!

So please consider giving back to the community that has nurtured and supported you in your career. We invite you to donate online, add a little to your membership dues, participate in one of the ERF fundraising drives or come to a Jazz in the Afternoon show. Every dollar counts. You will feel all the better for it.

For more information, please visit

Bettina Covo is the ERF fundraising coordinator. See the current Jazz in the Afternoon schedule here. To donate to the ERF – or apply for ERF funding – see

(Win a Pearl drum set autographed by Bernard Purdie! Click here for details!)

“How the ERF helped me”

Prior to being elected as 802’s recording vice president, Andy Schwartz served as fundraising coordinator for the ERF (from 2011 to 2015). That job, for him, was a labor of love. Schwartz remembers his own experience with the ERF. “Our community of artists always lives precariously,” he said. “Some 20 years ago I found myself in a work lull that stretched on for too long while my obligations of raising a family in the suburbs rolled on. It began to look grim. A colleague suggested 802’s Musicians’ Assistance Program, which is sponsored by the ERF, and I took a chance that I could get help there. The result was lifechanging. Financial assistance was arranged and I got breathing room to plan for the future. Long story short, the great counseling I received led me to go back to school for a graduate degree, resulting in a career in the record industry, while my work as a musician started picking up again. Now, all these years later, I still believe in the immense value of the ERF and hope our members will see it as an invaluable benefit of 802 membership. If you need help, the ERF is here!” (Apply or donate at