As you know, band shirts are a massive part of my life. Without them, my image wouldn't be the same, my identity would be a little less complete, I'd lose my individuality, and most of all, the importance of music in my life would be left unspoken. Despite the fact a million other people own the same shirt, I feel as if band shirts speak volumes about me, sending a message to the people that I pass on the street - in a way it makes me feel as if I'm more approachable to people, I'm happy to speak to strangers about the band shirt I'm wearing, and I have done on many occasions.
What's also important to me is music education. Without my school's musical resources and the consequent education I received with learning instruments and the confidence that comes with performing in front of a class of my peers, I wouldn't be as aware or open-minded with music as I am now.
Who would I be without those music lessons in primary school singing 'It's A Long Way To Tipperary'? Who would I be without having performed 'Rock Around The Clock' on guitar in front of my entire primary school? Who would I be without still remembering how to play that Titanic song on the recorder? I'd be half the person I am now, I'd be a shy, quivering wreck, and I'd be completely oblivious and prejudiced against the infinite musical genres out there.
Band Shirt Archive combines these two things - contributing to musical education and band shirts.
The archive was established by two guys, Nate and Mike, with the aim of supporting music education charities by raising money through autographed merchandise auctions and shirt sales from the partners that advertise on their website. While the project has been going for a few years, it was shifted into top gear last year as the guys saw their dream unfolding big style.
For example, this year saw their efforts turn an autographed shirt from the Pine Box Boys into digital tuners for a high poverty school band in West Virginia. That's a cause I believe in.
Their fundraising target? $1,000,000. A dream too big? Not for these guys, as in their words, 'anything less than shooting the moon just isn't our style'. These guys are definitely my style.
As of last month, their fundraising reached out to 1,200 students in need of better music supplies and resources, and these guys have no intention of stopping there. With nearly 2,000 archived shirts and almost 90,000 shirts available through partner sellers, the project has its feet firmly on the ground.
So how can you help? Well, in many ways. Spreading the word is the main priority, but at the same time, if you have contacts in the music industry, please, make use of them for the sake of music charities. Let the boys at Band Shirt Archive know if you have any friends who could help get hold of autographed equipment which could raise the much-needed funds this project is aiming for. Perhaps you might want to submit a shirt to the archive, or grab a shirt or two from the sellers on the Band Shirt Archive website. The opportunities are endless - you can do something for music charities.
What's more, their homepage is a great source of music news - where else would I have found out about P!nk's oldest fan? I'll admit, this amused me far more than it should have.
I fell in love with this company from the moment they contacted me - they're not out for personal gain, they're in the business to make a difference through band shirts, and they're making a huge change already. If I or you, my readers, can make any contribution to this cause, these guys deserve it, I can't wait to see them grow and reach beyond their targets!
So now you know who they are and what you can do for them, what are you waiting for? Visit the Band Shirt Archive here.