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Ezra Open

Better than Ezra's 12th Annual Benefit Raises Money for Bethune Elementary

Now known as much for their charity work as they are for their music, Better than Ezra is performing for their 12th annual Ezra Open. This year’s benefit concert will raise money for their most recent partnership with Young Audiences, specifically Y.A.’s involvement with Bethune Elementary in Hollygrove.  


Country music singer J.T. Hodges and Matt Nathanson are performing with the band for for this year’s show, which will take place at House of Blues on Saturday, April 12, at 8 p.m..


The only two original members of the band are bassist Tom Drummond and lead vocalist and guitarist, Kevin Griffin. Drummond still lives in New Orleans, and he and the band are very active in local charities.


Drummond said the transition into philanthropy came after the Storm. "We had been doing charity work before Katrina, but really it was another organization doing it and using our name," said Drummond. "I think when something like Katrina happens, you feel like if you can help, there’s something that the band’s presence can do," he said. 


The band became involved with Young Audiences last year. Proceeds from this year’s benefit will go towards Y.A.’s arts education program at Bethune Elementary, in Holly Grove. 


The program offers 30 minutes of tutoring with homework, followed by 75 minutes of class in arts such as African drumming and dance, dance, film production, and marching band instruction. 


Drummond and Griffin have been performing together since the band formed in the late ‘80’s, when they got their start on LSU’s campus. Now in their 40’s, Drummond said the band’s dynamic has evolved a great deal over the past two decades.


“It’s very different in the sense that when you’re young and you’re not married and don’t have any real responsibilities, it’s easy to go out and go on tour,” said Drummond. “Now, we can’t just pick up and leave. We’ve all got to coordinate schedules.”


The band mates no longer live in the same city. “That’s a Katrina thing as well,” Drummond commented on the band’s living situation. “Before we could just say, ‘Hey, let’s rehearse today.’”


However, they were able to record a lot of their most recent album from their respective locations.


“There’s technology out there that allows us to send stuff back and forth,” said Drummond. “We spent a lot of time preparing. We spent three years just picking songs,” he said.


Better than Ezra employed producer Tony Hoffer for their latest album. Hoffer has worked with other big name artists such as Beck, Depeche Mode, and M83.


Drummond said that with their most recent album, the band aimed to create an updated version of their old, alt rock sound.


“One of the reasons we chose Tony Hoffer is for that very reason… Sometimes you can go too far and it just seems robotic or not human. It still feels like a live band playing the stuff, but there’s new production,” explained Drummond.  


The band's latest album will be released this summer. Until then, fans can enjoy their old favorites this weekend. Drummond said that this year's special guests were a natural pick for the band. 


"Kevin writes with a lot of people throughout the year. When he hits it off with people, he automatically invites them to the Ezra Open." 


This is the first year that the entire event will be held at House of Blues (225 Decatur). Tickets are $100, and $300 for the patron party before the concert. 



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