Many fans of folk and country music are already aware of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Those who aren’t familiar with the county’s musical exports probably know “Paradise” John Prine’s ode to his father’s hometown. The area’s music scene isn’t what it once was, but Muhlenberg Music Mission is looking to change that. More importantly, the foundation hopes to help train the next generation of musicians.
Muhlenberg Music Mission started with a conversation. Benjamin Tod of Lost Dog Street Band mentioned to Ben Duvall, a fellow Muhlenberg County resident and business owner, that he’d like to start a youth music-based nonprofit. Before long, they were rolling up their sleeves and making it happen.
Recently, I spoke to Tod and Duvall about Muhlenberg Music Mission, what they hope to achieve and what inspired the idea that started it all.
The Goal of the Muhlenberg Music Mission
Benjamin Tod explained that the goal of the Muhlenberg Music Mission is to put “instruments into the hands of young underprivileged kids in the county and pair them with people in the county who know how to teach kids to play music.”
Ben Duvall, President of Muhlenberg Music Mission agreed, saying, “Our sole purpose is to put willing students into rooms with good instructors and good equipment so we can give them the best training possible.”
The Inspiration Behind the Mission
Muhlenberg Music Mission was Benjamin Tod’s idea. During our talk, he opened up about what made him want to start the nonprofit. “I had just begun recovery from addiction and was just really working on my mental health,” he said. More importantly, Tod was starting to think further ahead. “I started to think about my legacy and what good I wanted to do in this world. I had it in the back of my mind that wherever I ended up establishing after a decade of being on the road – which happened to be Muhlenberg County – I wanted to create some type of nonprofit to give back all the blessings that I’ve had in my life.”
How You Can Get Involved with Muhlenberg Music Mission
If you don’t live in the Muhlenberg County area, you can still get in on the Mission. You can donate via PayPal, join the MMM Patreon, or donate instruments to the cause. You can find out how to do all of that on the foundation’s website.
However, if you live in the area and are qualified to teach kids to play music, this might be your lucky day. This morning, the Muhlenberg Music Mission started accepting applications for instructors. They won’t be taking just anyone, though. Ben Duvall explained “We are going to have an interview process and we’ll be very selective of the curriculum and the instructors that we choose. We’re very invested in the materials and instruments we’re putting in these kids’ hands. We want to make sure we don’t burn them out with cheap instruments and poor lessons.”
They hope to start giving lessons by this fall at the latest.
Benjamin Tod added that Muhlenberg Music Mission hopes to offer a way for people to fund scholarships for students. “Ideally,” he said, “we would have all volunteers to give lessons to kids but that’s not realistic.” Instead, the foundation will allow donors to sponsor students or donate to general scholarships in the future.
If you want to see some great music while giving money to the Muhlenberg Music Mission, you’ll have a chance to do that later this month. The foundation is holding its spring 2022 benefit concert at the Bard Distillery in Graham, Kentucky on May 28th. It’s an outdoor event with one hell of a lineup, food trucks, and a festival atmosphere. Lost Dog Street Band will headline the show. The Local Honeys, Justin Wells, and Logan Halstead will provide support.
A total of 30 meet and greet passes are available for the show. However, you have to join the Muhlenberg Music Mission Patreon to be eligible to purchase those.
Additionally, Benjamin Tod will have a test pressing of his upcoming solo album up for auction at the event.