Published on March 26th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Cory Chisel On The “Refuge For The Arts Foundation” & Its April 13th Benefit At The Howard
Simply put, Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons is a popular Wisconsin-based band. The group has appeared on a variety of talk shows — including those of Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman — and has played on major music festivals all over the States. Chisel was named “Artist Of The Year” at the 2010 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards, while Chisel himself was Grammy-nominated as the co-writer of the song “The Traveling Kind” with Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.
But that is only part of the story for Chisel. As a co-founder of the non-profit Refuge For The Arts Foundation, Chisel helps transform communities around United States by providing resources for artists and individuals struggling with mental and emotional health issues. The Refuge Foundation For The Arts offers resources like recording equipment for aspiring musicians, producing tracks — which have garnered over 15 million streams — and hosting over 200 benefit concerts since its inception.
Chisel’s foundation has since outgrown its original headquarters, as noted by fellow Wisconsinites (and proprietors of The Howard) Carey Sharpe and Jenna Golem. A newly-restored historic concert hall in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, The Howard’s opulent grand ballroom will serve as a home-base for the Refuge Foundation For The Arts. And this all kicks off with a benefit rock concert — starring Chisel, Adriel Denae and LOLO — on April 13, 2019 at The Howard to raise money for the cause.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Cory Chisel himself by phone, and the beginning of our chat is below for your reading pleasure. The full chat will appear on a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast. In the meantime, more on Chisel and the Refuge For The Arts Foundation can be found online at www.refugearts.org, while the latest live performances and news related to The Howard — as listed as in the National Register and State Register of Historic Places by the Secretary of the Interior — can be tracked via www.thehowardoshkosh.com.
How long has this benefit show been in the works for?
Cory Chisel: I’ve known the sisters from The Howard for probably about six months, and I put them through a rigorous test of nights of us drinking and getting to know each other and wanting to know where similarities may lie. Ever since that first night we met them, we were like, “we’ve to make some music together.” They’ve got this beautiful place that, I don’t know how much you know about it or not, but I was trying to find a way to not beg and thankfully they invited me.
Did you know outright that the event that you were trying to plan would be specifically with The Howard? Or did the idea come from their team?
Cory Chisel: We merged, we mindmelded, is the best way to say it. We were looking for an opportunity to support this veterans program that we’ve been running for a while through my foundation, which is called Refuge Foundation For The Arts, and the more we talked about our sort of mutual interest, it just kind of felt like this was the thing that we could get together on and we would both spiritually and musically get a lot out of.
In terms of Refuge, when exactly did that start up?
Cory Chisel: We’ve been in charge of this cool old monastery in Wisconsin for about three years and we’ve been connecting artists to do incredible work all around the country and could choose to be much more beautiful places like whatever, Hollyweird or wherever they wanted to go, but their interest went beyond that of art-making but also into community-building.
So the more people I met like that over time, we said, “Eventually we’re going to need a place where we make records, work on paintings, write plays, write poetry, write novels…” But the ultimate goal was to benefit the community, as opposed to an entertainment entity like a record label. So for about the past three years we’ve been on about that.