When Radio 104.5’s Cole Selleck set out to host his second annual benefit concert for music education this year, he thought it would be smooth sailing.
In May 2018, the inaugural Rock the Troc raised approximately $3,000 for Play On Philly, which provides classical training for low-income youth, and featured a lineup of local artists including Newtown’s Shane Henderson of Valencia.
Everything went off without a hitch. But that wasn’t the case for 2019.
In a matter of days, the William Tennent alum had to book a new venue after The Trocadero announced its closing, revamp the lineup after Good Old War’s Keith Goodwin landed a paying gig in California and could no longer perform, and switch the date from May 4 to May 19 – the same date as the highly-anticipated Game of Thrones finale.
Though nothing seemed to be working in Selleck’s favor, he made it work, hosting Rock the Cause at World Cafe Live and raising $2,300 for the nonprofit Rock to the Future.
“It was great,” Selleck told The Times the day after the show. “It was one of those things where, when planning the first year, we didn’t know if we would even have the opportunity to do it a second time. So it was really cool to be able to do that, even with all the obstacles we dealt with this year that were not planned. It still came together nicely and it was cool to still see a lot of people come out and support the cause.”
Rock the Cause commenced at 6:30 p.m. in the downstairs section of the 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia venue, with singer-songwriter Joshua Chase Miller taking the stage. Miller, whose catalog of music is chock-full of heartbreaking ballads, was the perfect choice to kick off the show and get attendees warmed up for an evening of entertainment. The artist performed a slew of originals, humorously chiding himself over their admittedly-sad nature, and a cover of the MGMT hit “Electric Feel.”
Next up was the alt-rock June Divided, headed by powerhouse frontwoman Melissa Menago. Though the band wasn’t on the original bill, it graciously obliged to participate in Rock the Cause after an unforgettable set at last year’s show.
The night continued with the Philly trio of Matt Scottoline, Rob DeCarolis and Joe DeCarolis, who make up the band Hurry, and Newtown’s own Shane Henderson, best known as the frontman of Valencia. By this point, the bar area and venue floor had filled, with handfuls of diehards singing Henderson’s lyrics back to him.
After his performance of several Valencia tracks, Henderson welcomed students from Rock to the Future’s house band to join him on stage to perform covers of Rage Against the Machine and Sublime.
“People in the audience could not believe that these were 15-year-olds. I think some of them were actually younger,” Selleck said. “One kid Franklin on the guitar played the Rage Against the Machine solo like somebody you would see at a professional show. It was unbelievable. That was a cool moment to see the kids take the stage and show what they’ve been doing.”
According to Selleck, Henderson went above and beyond in his efforts to showcase the students’ talents. He didn’t want to simply play his own music – he wanted the spotlight to be on them.
“He took the time to practice with the kids for this performance,” Selleck said. “It’s great for the audience to see the product of what these kids are learning at school. It’s the bow on the present of the show. It’s why we do what we do, why music education is important, what we’re raising the money for.”
Henderson shared a similar sentiment in a Facebook status.
“There was a whole lot of love in that room and I am grateful for those who were able enough to share a post, tell a friend, or even buy a ticket from far away,” he wrote.
The concert wrapped up at 10 p.m. with The Early November’s Ace Enders, who put on a stellar performance for audience members who chose music over witnessing the final battle for the Iron Throne.
Despite the show attracting fewer attendees than last year due to those unforeseen circumstances, Selleck is still calling it a success. Many who were unable to attend did not ask for refunds, allowing their ticket purchase to be used as a donation toward Rock to the Future.
With a second year in the books, Selleck is being bombarded with one question – will he do it again?
“There’s no reason why we wouldn’t want to do another show. I know there are more people that I had in mind as far as wanting to play that still haven’t,” he said. “As long as people are willing to come out and the bands are willing to play, I can’t see why this wouldn’t be a thing for years to come. And I hope it’s a thing because it’s a great event for our Philadelphia music community to come together and support not only music education, but each other, these really great musicians that are in Philadelphia that not everybody knows about.”
But before Selleck gets ahead of himself planning 2020’s Rock the Cause, he needs to do one minor thing first – marry his fiancee in October.
“I was told by Brittny that we cannot talk about any future shows until the wedding, which makes sense,” he said with a laugh. “So now I’m focusing on our benefit show, from which we benefit from all of our friends.” ••