Tim Tuttle’s 5th annual ‘Music From Ground Zero’

Music From Ground Zero Mark Dann, member of Dharma Bums, and Tim Tuttle
Music From Ground Zero L: Mark Dann, member of Dharma Bums, who have played for the Dalai Lama; R: Tim Tuttle. Photo by Chris Eckert.

On the fifth anniversary of the events of 9/11 The Knitting Factory will host Tim Tuttle and friends in their Fifth Annual “Music From Ground Zero,” featuring a collection of songs of hope, remembrance, love, despair, and joy that were written in reflection on the event by Tuttle, who then collaborated with the evening’s other musicians.

If the light in the darkness of 9/11 was the extraordinary abilities that revealed themselves in ordinary people, Tim Tuttle was a musical version of that. He is not a professional musician, though you would never know it to see him onstage. A remarkably gifted songwriter with a stunning voice and a phenomenal stage presence, he had never written music before 9/11. Though music was his first love, he had gone into business like good American sons are supposed to. His office faced the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and he lost 35 friends and acquaintances that day. In the shock of that experience, he wrote the lyrics to his first song on a ferry as he moved slowly across the Hudson River late that in the afternoon of the attacks.

In the weeks and months following, his office continued to face the site, and relentlessly monitored the aftermath of the disaster. Days were broken by moments of silence as the flag-draped remains of someone’s loved ones were removed. Songs kept pouring out of him, and a musical project unexpectedly arose, seemingly from the ashes of Downtown Manhattan. A group of talented and seasoned musicians coalesced around the music-his bass player had recently played for the Dalai Lama-and their sessions morphed into an annual show to honor friends Tuttle had known and lost and heroes he didn’t know but wished he had. Now, “Music from Ground Zero” is a song cycle on the verge of a rock opera.

The musicians are Tim Tuttle (Vocals, Guitar), Jeremy Slansky (Guitar, Vocals), Rich Lamb (Keys, Vocals), Donna Kelly (Drums), Owen Yost (Bass), Jonathan Fritz (Guitar), Mark Dann (Guitars) and Claudia Chopek (Violin). The music ranges from heartbreaking ballads to soaring anthemic rock, in a style that has been compared to Neil Young.

In keeping with the theme of honoring the heroes of that day, proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (www.fallenheroesfund.org). That charity is constructing a world-class state-of-the-art advanced training skills facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. The center will serve military personnel who have been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The center will also serve military personnel and veterans severely injured in other operations and in the normal performance of their duties, combat and non-combat related.

Tuttle’s song cycle seethes with heartfelt emotion. As it explores the extremes of grief, bewilderment, hope and yearning it is both totally heartbreaking and incredibly healing. Tuttle testifies that the evening reflects him “going through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance,” and back to square one again. The music is “not about politics nor about religion.” As the son of a World War Two paratrooper who is grieved by the loss of meaning of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, Tuttle’s aim is to memorialize. He often quotes a Native American proverb, “They are not gone who live in the hearts of those they left behind.”

The music has struck a nerve with 9/11 survivors and Tuttle has been periodically swamped with requests for recordings of “Music From Ground Zero.” Although the lyrics are not flag-waving or even overtly patriotic, the CDs have become a popular gift for troops serving overseas.

Previous concerts were held at Tribeca Rock (six blocks from Ground Zero). Music From Ground Zero has always been a labor of love. Nine songs from the concert and a video from last year’s “Music From Ground Zero” are available for free download at www.musicfromgroundzero.com. “In a world where music is money these days the site is purely about healing. We must always remember.”

Tuttle writes on the website, “Everyone who prays for a peaceful world and for tolerance is inextricably linked to Ground Zero. Every American – no, every caring person on this planet – has a connection. I hope this helps in some small but meaningful way. It is my small contribution to a world filled with chaos.”

“Music from Ground Zero” will be presented for one night only, September 11, 2006, at 7:30 pm at The Knitting Factory (Main Space). 74 Leonard Street, Manhattan. The show is presented by Music from Ground Zero (www.musicfromgroundzero.com). Suggested contribution is $12 at the door, $10 on line. Proceeds will benefit: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (helping wounded U.S soldiers who return from Iraq). The box office number is: (212) 219-3132. Online ticketing is available at: www.knittingfactory.com.

Jonathan Slaff
Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.