Collingswood Music Hosts Beatles/Stones Invitational


More than 20 artists will perform hits by rock’s all-time greats to pay for music lessons for needy kids.

By Matt Skoufalos

Kevin Monko. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Kevin Monko. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The last time Collingswood musician Kevin Monko had an idea for a musical fundraiser—a glam-rock benefit for the Collingswood Bike Share—it spawned a full-fledged, local pick-up band.

This time around, he’s planting the seeds for a future generation of musicians.

“I want kids to take music lessons so that we have awesome music to listen to when we’re old,” Monko said.

To that end, the local performer is partnering with Collingswood Music for a special benefit March 28: the inaugural Beatles/Stones Invitational benefit.

Inspired by the Bob Dylan Birthday Bash at Rembrandt’s in Philadelphia, Monko thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to hear a lot of talented local acts do their take on one Beatles song and one [Rolling] Stones song?

“At first I was just going to do it for fun,” he said. “[Then] Ted Velykis at Collingswood Music offered to match, dollar for dollar, up to one year of lessons for a kid, which would cost around $1,200.”

The six-hour event will feature some 20-plus local artists playing one song (no repeats) from each of The Beatles’ and Rolling Stones’ catalogues. Proceeds from raffles and a $10 suggested donation at the door will go to the cost of music lessons for needy neighborhood children.

Ted Velykis. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Ted Velykis. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

‘Giving a local kid a boost’

The ideal candidate is “somebody who’s demonstrated commitment to learning” their instrument, Monko said; a student who has shown ability but who can’t afford one-on-one lessons.

“Having that incentive and private instruction could really give a kid a boost,” Monko said.

Event organizers are connecting with point people in the local school district to help identify beneficiaries for the event, Velykis said.

He and some Collingswood Music instructors will be among the 20-plus performers at the event.

“Of course we think that music lessons are very important, and as music programs are gutted at schools we hope to rise to the occasion [to offer private lessons],” Velykis said.

“We think it helps not only in playing instruments, but in everything you do in life.”

Peter Brown. Credit - Peter Brown.

Peter Brown. Credit – Peter Brown.

Event organizers are also collecting viable musical instruments that could be gifted to needy children through the event.

Collingswood luthier Pete Brown of Loudo Musical Instruments has offered to repair any guitars donated, and will provide a free guitar to the beneficiary of the show if the child wants guitar lessons.

He credited the local music scene with conceiving of and supporting such an event.

“The musician community in Collingswood is pretty tight, and it’s cool that everybody pulls together to do something,” Brown said.

“Music is one of the first areas that gets cut out of someone’s life or gets overlooked,” he said.

“Kids who learn music at an early age are better problem-solvers, smarter at math, and that’s pretty much overlooked by our standard educational system.”

Plus, Brown said, “everybody likes The Beatles and the Stones.

“You can’t really pick a better duo of bands” for an event like this, he said. “You have so many good tunes to pull from. There’s no duds.”

Beatles Stones Poster. Credit: John Falco.

Beatles Stones Poster. Credit: John Falco.

‘There’s a lot of talent in the area’

A day’s worth of classic rock covers from neighborhood talent is almost a sidebar to the goodwill of the day, but fans of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones will absolutely get their money’s worth from performers who feel a personal connection to the material.

“I’m not a purist,” Monko said.

“Some people say, ‘You’ve got to have the right approach to do the Stones or the Beatles;’ I don’t care about doing it right, I just want to hear what people are doing.”

And although most music fans will hear the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as an either-or question, Monko said it doesn’t have to be.

“There’s a suggestion that people are either in the Beatles camp or the Stones camp, although I’ve always loved both of them,” he said.

“Although 30 percent of the people who got back to me knew what Beatles song they wanted to do and had to think about what Stones song.”

Monko also expects that the quality of the performances will be “good enough that people will want to do it next year,” hopefully helping even more children.

“There’s a lot of talent right in this area, as everybody knows,” Monko said. “The [players] who are coming I’ve invited so that the quality will be good enough that people will want to do it next year.

The Beatles/Stones Invitational will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. on March 28 at Collingswood Music (9 Lincoln Avenue). Refreshments and giveaways provided by Constellation CollectiveThe Pop ShopThe Tortilla Press, and Revolution Coffee Roasters.

Can’t go but still want to contribute? Click here to make an online donation.

Know some worthy candidates for the gift of music lessons? Make a recommendation on the Facebook event page.

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