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Rocking for Charity

October 15, 2004—Donating concert profits to charity is something that most people are familiar with. What is unusual is a band that donates all of its proceeds from every concert.

Music for a Cause

The Businessmen

The Businessmen

Since the mid-1990s, the Businessmen have done just that, playing R&B and raising more than $100,000 for over thirty charities, primarily benefiting children and family causes.

Core members of the band are John Collins ’83 and Brad Turner ’88. While roommates at IUP, Collins and Turner were in a band called 4 Play, playing gigs at the student union, fraternity parties, and often at the Coney Island bar.

Turner was a member of the IUP Marching Band and the 10 O’clock Jazz band, but after graduating he went on hiatus from playing until he joined the Businessmen. In addition to playing, he owns Easy Access Electronics, which specializes in custom home automation. Turner’s wife, Lynnanne Wendell Turner ’89, takes care of the company books.

After college, Collins jumped between various bands in the Pittsburgh area, including the Boilermakers, the Sliders, Tapanzee, and Rio, finally taking a break when his daughter was born in 1993. He is currently parking operations manager at the University of Pittsburgh. His wife, Daria Levkus Collins ’88, is a client associate and manager’s assistant for Merrill Lynch.

Joining the Band

poster

In 1996, Collins joined the Businessmen on bass, sax, and vocals. After the five musicians recorded their self-titled first CD, Turner was added on keyboard, trombone, and vocals. The band later expanded to include another guitarist and a horn section known as the “Down to Business Horns.”

“Many of the musicians play other instruments,” said Collins. “There are times when Brad and I add our horn playing to the DTB Horns, creating a fat four-piece horn section to cover tunes by bands like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears.”

In addition to covering classic tunes, nearly 75 percent of their songs are original compositions.

“At one time or another, everyone in the band had aspirations to make a living playing music,” said Collins. “Although we realized that those dreams were not going to happen, each of our performances is an opportunity for us to play the music we love and to raise money for some great charities.”

Playing for Charities

They not only support organizations like Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Family Resources, Toys for Tots, and the Autism Society, but they also work to defray medical expenses such as for a thirteen-year-old girl injured in a horseback-riding accident.

A large group of IUP alumni attended one of the Businessmen's show at Zander's Nightclub in 2004.

A large group of IUP alumni attended one of the Businessmen's show at Zander's Nightclub in 2004.

Not every job has one specific charity attached to it. Some shows shore up the general fund, from which the band makes miscellaneous charitable donations (such as to St. Anthony’s School for Special Children or Animal Full Life Rescue).

Now nine members strong, the Businessmen have released four CDs (The Businessmen, Live and Loose, Suit Yourself, and Best of the Businessmen) and have collaborated on two more with other Pittsburgh musicians: Reflections of an Average Soul and Nied’s Hotel (available at www.niedshotel.com).

Just like their concerts, the CD profits are donated to charity.

The spirit of the band is contagious: even the lighting and sound crews work for free. “It’s a good feeling knowing you are helping others and are still able to do what you love,” said Collins.

For more information on the Businessmen, visit their website at  www.business-men.com .

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