Music is at its best when its power can be harvested towards a greater good.
Just ask Alex Colon, a Lancaster County native and artist who performs under the name Worldwide Wednesday, who helped to organize the Ripple Effect Give-Back Festival, happening this Friday, Nov. 19, at Phantom Power.
“I always tell people, ‘if you want your community to support you, you’ve got to support your community,’” Colon says. “That’s really just what it is — you can’t expect to get something if you don’t give something, that is just how the world works. You need to tap into where you come from first, and then you can go into a wider scale and do the things you’re supposed to.”
The concert, which will feature local heavy hitters such as Thunda Khatt, Laddie Moran, Suge and others, is a collaboration with The Mix at Arbor Place, the Lancaster city youth services organization. Colon will collect canned food and nonperishable goods at the concert, which will then be used by The Mix for its annual Thanksgiving meal for families who cannot afford their own meals, on Monday, Nov. 22.
Colon first collaborated with The Mix via the Tru2You program, which hosts block cleanings and music-based after-school programs.
“What helps honestly is that the members of Tru2You, Ripple Effect, Alex — they’re from the community and aren’t strangers to us,” says Marisol Santos, director of family and student engagement at The Mix. “It’s something that we’re able to check up on and say, ‘OK, this is on the up and up, this isn’t just to get their name out there or publicity, they really do have a heart to want to give back to the community.’ This is the community that they grew up in and still reside in, so why not partner with them and give back to the community? That’s what we all want to do.”
The Mix itself will host its own event from 4 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 19 featuring a multitude of fundraisers, including a painting event with artist Keisha Finnie and a basketball shooting challenge. As a prelude to the Give-Back Festival, Colon and a few other artists will perform at The Mix at 4 p.m. before driving out to Phantom Power.
Giving back to the next generation
The festival, fittingly with the words “give back” in the name, is happening on the date of the Extraordinary Give, which Colon says is purely coincidental.
Once he realized the date, he says that the goal became much clearer. While working with The Mix, Colon says he’s had been a firsthand witness to the type of good that music can provide on a young person.
“When I was at The Mix, I talked to this 13-year-old boy who produces, and he was talking to me like he was my age, as far as knowledge goes,” Colon says. “I told him, ‘I wish I was as knowledgeable as you are at 13.’ He said ‘I’m going to be a producer. While everyone else is out doing their thing, partying, whatever they need to be doing, I’ll be in the studio.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to keep that mindset, bro.’ That’s the thing I’m most excited about, providing a platform for people like that.”
The Ripple Effect Give-Back Festival comes at a time when Colon is planting more roots in Lancaster after several years living in Florida. He returned at the onset of COVID-19, unsure of his plans, but now says that he is looking forward to bringing a version of the festival to Florida in December.
“For a while, I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure about the move back, Colon says. “I believe highly in purpose and God’s intent, so God’s intention wasn’t just for me to come back for music and to build up Ripple Effect, but to help my family out, be closer with my friends and be sure they’re good. It’s a lot of things that needed to happen to me personally and I don’t regret it at all.”
In 2022, Colon says he’ll also be expanding the “Ripple Effect” banner to include the Ripple Lounge, a series of short live showcases by Lancaster artists at Read Red Books in downtown Lancaster city.
Colon also hopes to one day put that 13-year-old from The Mix, and others like him, on festival lineups in the years to come.
“The reason I even started this up is because I never had the chance when I was in high school,” says Colon, a Lancaster Catholic High School grad. “I would hit people up for festivals and shows, and they’d say no, or skip over my name. So, I said, ‘all right, I’ll create a show or festival that is my own and I’ll perform on it.’ Now, it’s to give back — literally — to the younger generation. To put them on those stages excites me.”
“You know how easy it is to get distracted as a teenager,” Colon says. “Like, you can go into so many different directions, but having these kids constantly be around and motivating them while they motivate us, that’s important.”