WASHINGTON — Reporter Mark Segraves was a regular at local music shows long before he could legally drink, and now he’s hoping to help some of the musicians who entertained him — and who need a helping hand.
“My dad wrote the After Dark column in the 1960s and 70s for the Washington Star, where he reviewed the local music scene,” Segraves said. “As a kid, he would take me to these shows, so I started meeting people like John Denver, and Roberta Flack, and Bill Danoff — some are still playing around at clubs and big venues, today.”
Segraves is a reporter with NBC Washington, a news partner of WTOP. He was also formerly a reporter at WTOP.
Segraves and local music veteran Tommy Bowes have formed a nonprofit called After Dark Productions, with the goal of helping musicians who fall on hard times and promoting local music.
“Whether it’s medical bills, stolen equipment, rent — a lot of these local musicians have full-time jobs, families, and at the same time they’re trying to do their art,” said Segraves. “Many of them play for tips when they go out to clubs and play now.”
The nonprofit books local bands at clubs and pays the bands.
“The money that would typically go to the promoter — the profits from the show — would go into this After Dark fund, which we’re going to use to help musicians.”
Even before formalizing the nonprofit, Segraves and Bowes had combined to help musicians in need.
“Billy Hancock, who was a world-renowned guitarist, singer and songwriter who died this year — he left his widow with thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills and funeral costs,” Segraves said. “We were able to put on a show that helped his widow with those costs.”
Recently, Segraves and Bowes assisted musician-owned Vinyl Acres — a record store in Frederick, Maryland, that was flooded out. “We put on a show — Nils Lofgren showed up — it was sold out, and we raised thousands of dollars to help that store reopen.”
The life of a musician can be difficult, Segraves said.
“A lot of these musicians are older, and collecting Social Security, and they don’t have health insurance, and from time to time they need our help,” Segraves said. “We’re also reaching out to the next generation of musicians. We want to help them promote their music and kind of pay it forward. So, this fund grows and will be something that’s around long after I’m gone.
Currently, Segraves said the group has a Facebook page. “We’re looking for volunteers — people with expertise in the nonprofit community, people with expertise in concert promoting.”