Written By JustinSane
With what I do in my chosen path within the music industry, I get to cover a lot of events. Whether they be big arena festivals or small intimate gigs in dive bars, I try to pay the same amount of detail to every photo or review.
Since moving to Maine a little less than a decade ago, there has been one festival every year that I truly hold closest to my heart. That being Waterfront Concerts annual suicide prevention/mental health awareness festival Rise Above Fest started by Shaun Morgan of the rock band Seether. For five straight years I have marked and shaped my summer schedule around this great event.
You see, what many may not realize is that my mother suffered heavily from depression. This is not an easy topic for me, so please bear with me here. One day back in April 2011, me and my wife were driving down to Massachusetts to visit my mother, one of the biggest Red Sox fans I know, and surprise her by taking her out to opening day at Fenway Park. We never made it to that game, because when we arrived at my mothers house, we found that she had lost her battle with depression and had taken her own life that day. I cannot describe much of that day, as it completely numbed me in such a traumatic way.
Immediately, I took a time out from life and became somewhat of a zombie, just going through the motions of each day. This lasted quite some time and if not for my amazing wife, I too may have lost my battle as well. You see, I also suffer from some heavy depression myself. I tend to hide it very well, as most do, with a positive exterior. Keeping a smile on my face, comforting others around me and pointing out the positive in every situation. Meanwhile fighting the demons within myself, like a sickness that doesn’t show outwardly, as long as I keep my facade up for the world to see.
When I covered my first Rise Above Fest, I spoke to so many other people who had stories similar to mine. Including Shaun Morgan who told me his story about his brother Eugene, which is what inspired the song ‘Rise Above This’ and the festival itself.
From then, I dove full in/all in with everything to do with Rise Above Festival. Each year as it approached, our sponsors would buy tickets for us to give away on the radio; We would do fundraisers for the organizations involved each year; And I would do my best to fully cover the entire festival every year. So you can imagine my disbelief and heartache when I found out in 2017, the 5th year, that it was to be the final Rise Above Festival.
Then I learned through my various sources that Waterfront Concerts had plans to set in motion their very own ‘suicide prevention/mental health awareness’ festival. The words I heard were that WC will still always make an impact with this subject every year. Hence the birth of ‘Impact Music Festival’.
When Impact Music Festival was announced and I saw the full plans for it, including the remodel for the now permanent Waterfront Pavilion, I was immediately excited. Since then, I have been nothing but impressed with everything that Waterfront Concerts has done with keeping this the largest suicide prevention/mental health awareness event on planet Earth. With proceeds for the inaugural year going to the Maine based ‘Music Matters’ & ‘S.A.V.E’ organizations. Much as it will this second year of Impact Music Festival.
I look forward to covering IMF2 and meeting so many people with stories like mine coming together, sharing their stories, enjoying the entertainment and shining a light on the dark corner that so many live in. Each year, I look forward to not being alone in my struggle and sharing in other peoples struggles so that we can all smile for a while. Not just on the outside for everyone else, but inside where we can feel it ourselves.
Thank You Waterfront Concerts, Music Matters, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education and everyone who helps make this annual event the highlight of every summer. All realizing that the masks we wear to hide our demons, can actually become our true feelings. If even just for a weekend with others sharing our same feelings in a safe and welcoming atmosphere. None of us are as alone as we sometimes feel and everyone can make an Impact on those around us, each and every day.
Please Call: 1-800-273-8255 If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States.
JustinSane is a promoter, event manager & radio personality in Maine, covering music around the globe for Local Music Earth Entertainment.
All photos taken by JustinSane