The Resilient: Group of wounded veterans and civilians to perform at JCC on Saturday | Community Notes
WATERTOWN – A message of perseverance and resilience will be brought to Jefferson Community College this weekend by those who have tested their courage in battle and have been changed, but not defeated.
An American rock group that produces music that reflects both hardship and inspiration, The Resilient was formed in the summer of 2018 in a small town in Pennsylvania. The group is mainly made up of seriously injured veterans. Members include guitarist Nathan Kalwicki, lead singer Tim Donley, drummer Juan “Dom” Dominguez, guitarist Greg Loman and Nathan’s brother Eric Kalwicki on bass.
Mr. Donley, a Marine Corps veteran, had one year of active service before he was injured, then three more years of service before he was released. Mr. Dominguez, also a Marine Corps veteran, served four years. Nathan Kalwicki, a former army specialist, ended his service after 3.5 years.
“When you get home, I think the military hasn’t really done such a good job of decompressing us,” Dominguez said. “For us, music is our outlet, but for so many others, they are looking for that outlet and looking for this brotherhood.”
During their rehabilitation years at Walter Reed Military Hospital, Nathan Kalwicki and Mr. Donley met Mr. Loman as part of the MusiCorps program, where he was a senior artist in residence. Mr Dominguez entered the mix after forming a friendship with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who in 2013 invited what would become the members of The Resilient with him to the Madison Square Garden stage. They performed again, in 2015, at DAR Constitution Hall.
“I met Roger separately at a gala and told him I played drums and he thought I was crazy; he gave me his email and we stayed in touch, ”said Dominguez. “He was asked to play this event we were at and he did so on one condition: that he did it with wounded warriors. And then he found these guys. I had heard about Tim through the vineyard because there were so many amputees, there were so many of us at that time.
Mr Dominguez ended up at Walter Reed’s home after an improvised explosive device detonated, resulting in the loss of both legs below the knee, as well as the loss of his right arm below the elbow. Nathan Kalwicki was shot dead in Afghanistan and lost his right leg as a result. Explosives in Afghanistan allowed Donley to spend nearly three years recovering at Walter Reed’s home.
For Mr. Loman, he asked a friend to call him about a music program they were starting, the goal of which was not traditional music therapy, but a kind of “mini-conservatory in Walter Reed. ”, For those who receive treatment.
“Our job was basically to find out what their musical passions were and then try to give them as much as possible,” Loman said. “From the outside I can definitely say that the music had a huge impact on the vets I met at Walter Reed who were going through some really heavy shit, the heaviest. What do you say to someone who does this? I would try to let the music do the talking.
Often times Mr Loman said he saw what is called ‘getting bitten by the virus’, where someone would get really addicted to gambling. His job was to foster that.
The men finally got together, with Eric Kalwicki, and haven’t stopped playing together ever since. Through their shared experiences, a bond developed between the men, who continued what Roger Waters started and formed their own group.
The Resilient will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the JCC’s McVean Gymnasium. The college enrollment is 40% veterans, active duty military, and their families. Admission to the show is free, although advance ticket reservations are required and available online at bit.ly/resilientevents.
Community members are also invited to meet band members at a 7:30 p.m. Conversation Night on Fridays at the JCC’s Sturtz Theater.
The events were made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for Humanities with support from the Disabled Action Persons Organization.
Most of the band’s gigs involve foundations that help the military – gigs that have, in one way or another, to do with the veterans. They have been to many non-profit fundraisers and galas, happy to give back.
“Many of these groups have helped us at one time or another or our families,” Mr. Donley said.
The Watertown performance will be the band’s second full concert returning from the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other bands that stopped performing during the pandemic, they missed the stage and performed. The Resilient released their first original single “Freedom’s Cost” at the 2020 National Association of Music Merchants convention in California. According to the group, their shows are a mix of covers and originals, with more to come.
With members scattered across Pennsylvania, California, and Florida, it can be difficult for the group to find time together to practice and record. When they get together, everything seems to work well.
“When we get together it’s really cool to see how it’s like riding a bicycle, just sort of come out of the rust,” Mr. Dominguez said. “I’m very excited for these future shows that we’re about to start over and go out and be in front of people because I think there is nothing more exciting than playing live.”
While the band is still trying to find its sound, the more it leans on rock influences like Pink Floyd and Aerosmith, the more it makes sense. Playing music is a business on many levels – it’s not just about playing an instrument, it’s about recording, writing, and promoting, as well as booking shows and determining performance logistics. For the group it’s a little more difficult, but they get by and get by with the help of spouses and others.
The group hopes to lead by example by ignoring limitations and focusing on what is important. For them, it’s music.
“The cool thing about rehab (at Walter Reed’s) is that they saw music as my therapy,” Dominguez said. “They saw the need to find something that really motivated me so that I could heal faster.”
A former guitarist, he could no longer play as before after suffering his injuries, so Mr. Dominguez switched to drums in the establishment. Mr. Donley’s musical rehab was an opportunity to spend time with other people, all for a common purpose. At first, he didn’t entirely agree with the name of the band, but grew up to adopt it.
“I think it suits us well,” said Mr Donley. “There’s the obvious physical factor when you look at the group, but we’re also trying to get the message across that everyone is resilient, not just the military. Every human has the ability.
Even though the band perform a heavier song, there is always a positive message at the end, with the aim of uplifting and inspiring the audience while showing empathy for their struggles.
“We have our own things that we want to say – we want to talk about our experiences, we want to talk about how we feel about those experiences and have that to connect with other people,” Mr. Donley said. “Everyone has their own scars. Ours are a bit more visible and obvious than most, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Ultimately, everyone has the ability to get up and keep going. “