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The Arc Rocks!

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He has shared the stage with Mick Jagger, Slash from Guns N’Roses, Brian Setzer and Simon Kirke from Bad Company, and the studio with Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Debbie Harry and Joan Jett. Then, on Friday, April 7, Steve Marshall gave a concert that he considered to be one of the best in his career that has spanned decades; performing for and with a group of people that he considered true superstars.

On this day, this New York City based musician, founder and lead guitarist with New York’s Wildest Party Band, the Steve Marshall Band, performed at the Arc Nature Coast education center with legendary percussionist Gerardo Velez (original member of Spyro Gyra, who also performed with Jimi Hendrix) for an audience of people who seek services at The Arc Nature Coast. One of these individuals is Marshall’s son Joey, who has cerebral palsy and resides in a group home in the area.

The Arc Nature Coast’s mission is to provide individually tailored quality support and advocacy for persons with disabilities and their families to promote their self-determination and inclusion in community life. “The show was one of the most amazing I’ve ever played,” Marshall enthused. “The audience was so enthusiastic. They danced and sang along. They loved and appreciated the show.”

The audience also became part of the show, playing tambourines and harmonicas distributed at the performance. “A few even asked if they could try the guitar,” Marshall said with a smile. “I said, ‘Of course!’” Marshall’s entire performance proved most literally a “show of appreciation” for the Arc, which he credited with the transformation of his son’s life. “It’s been such a tough road for us,” Marshall shared. “My son lived for years with my mother in Weeki Wachee, with Joey’s mother and my sister helping with his care.”

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All of Joey’s caregivers have passed away in the last few years, leaving Marshall with few options for his care. After Joey’s stint in assisted living proved unsuccessful, he turned to the Arc for help. “Arc has made such a big difference,” said Marshall. “Joey lives in an Arc home, where he receives care 24/7. They provide him with so many services.”

In return, Marshall joined forces with another talented musician to say (and sing) thank you to the Arc and to the Hernando County community. “I staged this concert with a living legend, Gerardo Velez, who performed with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and hundreds of A list artists, also has lived in the Spring Hill area and now lives in Sarasota,” said Marshall. “We decided to try to put an event together to support the community. It’s about fun and about audience participation.”

These two have collaborated on a number of charity concerts in the past, including Harley-Davidson of New York’s Bikers Against Breast Cancer, Tsunami /Hurricane Sandy fundraisers, as well as Wounded Warrior, neighborhood restoration, and children’s hospital benefits. He also has worked with blind musicians in New York. He shared, “A long time ago, I decided to stop chasing cash gigs and do shows that could help and with concerts like the Arc performance, it is humbling to be able to do something fun for these people where there will be a lot of audience participation. It’s a great crowd. I’ve seen these people at dances with DJs, they are so genuine and unaffected with the many challenges they have and yet they continue without complaints. The people that work in this field and the volunteers are amazing.”

Marshall also has performed philanthropic concerts with Simon Kirke, drummer for Bad Company, and has co-written a number of songs with the renowned artist; including the original, soon to be released “Weeki Wachee.”

“Weeki Wachee is a magical place. I was playing guitar on my kayak one day on the springs, and manatees came to the surface to listen. Then you can go to Weeki Wachee Springs park and see mermaids winking from the waves,” he said. “Most of all, Weeki Wachee is a place where so much of my family has lived.”

Marshall will return to the Arc for an Unplugged Music Workshop on April 21. He also plans to return to the Arc again in the near future, bringing musical instruments into the Arc classrooms and encouraging students to touch and play them; also hosting student talent shows.
“I want them to have the chance to play music,” he said. “The chance to shine.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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