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Modern Baseball, Marietta, Spraynard, The Weaks and Hurry @ The Church for Lame-O Records United Cerebral Palsy Benefit.

February 17, 2015

MoBo06Text by Tim Mulhern. Images by Jessica Flynn.

It started as an idea for a senior project.

Emily Hakes, a senior music industry major at Drexel University and co-founder of Lame-O Records, developed the idea for the label’s most recent release – a six-way split entitled Strength in Weakness, featuring Spraynard, The Weaks, Modern Baseball, Marietta, Hurry and Beach Slang – after realizing she had to complete a senior project before graduation.

Hakes and Eric Osman, co-founder of the label and senior entertainment and arts management major at Drexel, wanted to release something benefitting charity for a long time, and viewed the split as a perfect opportunity to support a good cause. Deciding who or what the split would benefit was the easy part.

James Cassar, the managing editor of Modern Vinyl and a student at the University of Virginia, is a long-time friend and fan of both Lame-O Records and Modern Baseball. Cassar also has cerebral palsy, so when Hakes and Osman began to research potential charities to donate the proceeds from the project, they found the Philadelphia branch of United Cerebral Palsy.

“In typical Lame-O style, we announced the whole thing without ever getting in touch with the charity that we were going to be giving a large portion of money to,” Osman said. “We went to check out [United Cerebral Palsy] and that was the biggest eye-opening thing for [us]. It was like, ‘Wow, we are giving money to the right place.’”

Cassar was given an advanced copy of the press release but didn’t comprehend what he read the first time.

“I read it [again] and was really stoked because I do things to support people,” Cassar said. “I like that people are supporting this. It’s something that’s close to home — Lame-O is not close to home geographically but close to home internally — so it’s really tight. It was announced and I was jittery because I wanted to tell someone. I told my mom, but I didn’t tell anyone else.”

The Strength in Weakness crew.

The Strength in Weakness crew.

Hakes and Osman started with a long list of potential candidates for the split but decided on six Philadelphia-based acts. Each band was brought into the studio over the summer to cut individual tracks, each recorded and mixed by Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald and Ian Farmer.

The decision to join the split was an easy one for the bands involved. Lame-O Records was founded to support Modern Baseball when the band was releasing it’s debut LP in 2012, Sports. In addition to Modern Baseball, The Weaks are signed to Lame-O, and Spraynard, Hurry, Mariettta, and Beach Slang have befriended Hakes and Osman over the years.

“James was one of the first people that really cared about our band,” said Jake Ewald, guitarist and vocalist for Modern Baseball. “He was one of the first people to review Sports on the Internet. He wants to spread the things that he cares about. It’s a cool way to support something that’s close to home for us.”

Spraynard, hailing from West Chester, PA, is the only band to be featured from outside the city limits. But after e-mail correspondence with the label, the band was also on board to contribute a track.

“It’s cool that all of the proceeds are going to a benefit rather than putting out a split with bands to promote their label,” said Pat Graham, guitarist and vocalist for Spraynard.

With approval from his senior advisor, Osman fulfilled his senior project obligation by booking two sold-out benefit shows at the First Unitarian Church on Valentine’s Day and Saint Vitus in Brooklyn this past Sunday.

Parents, classmates, friends and fans packed the basement of the First Unitarian Church on Saturday to see Hurry, The Weaks, Marietta, Spraynard and Modern Baseball. The high point of the night came when Modern Baseball dedicated “Re-done,” a cut from Sports to Cassar.

The band, who headlined a sold-out TLA in December, shared its excitement in playing the smaller, more intimate venue, and reflected on the time the band opened for The Wonder Years on the same stage.

Cassar hopes the split inspires more widespread awareness of cerebral palsy.

“If people see their favorite bands, or bands that they listen to, tied to something like this, they’ll try to bring awareness to it themselves,” Cassar said. “It’s kind of like a domino effect.”

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