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3:54 AM Thu, Sept. 20th

Boys to Men Mentoring Network of Central Arizona sets annual ‘Play It Forward Musical Festival’ for May

Local youth musicians are scheduled to perform May 20 in downtown Prescott, alongside established artists Walt Richardson, Blaine Long, Marcus Weeden, and Drew Hall, the Boys to Men Mentoring Network of Central Arizona announced in its press release.

The event will also include food, drink, arts and inspirational presentations about the local network that serves young men ages 13 to 18, according to the group’s statement.

“American boys are falling through the cracks of our society because they lack consistently available adult male role models,” according to the group’s statement.

“Boys to Men was founded by men who realized that too many teen boys lack involved, positive adult male role models.

“Regardless of economic class, cultural diversity, and education achievement, data and experience tells us, a boy’s ability to successfully transition into adulthood reduces risky behaviors and increases educational and earning potential - leading to more intact families and fewer drains on our public and social service systems.

“Boys to Men Mentoring Network stands ready to fill the gap,” according to the group’s statement.

Its Fifth Annual Play It Forward Music Festival will be at the Holiday Courtyard, with a donor-appreciation event from 2-3 p.m., to meet the musicians, including Walt Richardson.

The Arizona legend has been playing folk, reggae and rock in the local community for more than thirty years. His interpretations include African and Latin influences.

In 2014, Richardson was inducted into Arizona’s Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.

He hosts Walk-in Wednesdays Open Mic Night at Tempe Center for the Arts and the Songwriters’ Showcase at Tempe Center for the Arts, which airs on PBS Eight/KAET, on Tempe 11.

Richardson also hosts a show on Radio Phoenix that is nationally-syndicated on the African American Radio Consortium, “My World of Music: A Peaceful Place in Quantum Space,” which airs from Noon – 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Richardson encourages other artists who feel the fire in their soul to create the sounds that move people’s souls.

Also preforming at the event in May will be Blaine Long. Born in West Virginia and raised in Arizona, Long was a high school dropout. He has worked in fast food service and digging ditches. But in 2016 he was a semi-finalist on NBC’s “The Voice. Today.”

Long’s music is marked by warm and soulful vocals and a powerful rhythmic acoustic guitar style.

Joining Richardson and Long will be Drew Hall, a performer and guitar instructor for more than 20 years in the Prescott area.

Hall was a founding member of AZ Blues Showdown champions Big Daddy D and the Dynamites (1999-2012).

He performs in a popular Latin /flamenco duo with Anton Teschner and is the lead guitarist of The CheekTones.

Hall has recently begun performing with Walt Richardson and Friends.

Also performing at the event in May will be Marcus Weeden, a multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger who hails from Anchorage, Alaska.

With a diverse musical background, Weeden has performed and recorded music ranging from rock, jazz, funk, Latino and folk to country.

Weeden is also the music director/bassist for Central Christian Church in Mesa, and he plays bass with Richardson, Long, Shawn Johnson, Ritmo Latino, Evan Berg and Aaron Ricker.

The main event at the Boys to Men Play It Forward Festival will begin at 4 pm and continue to 8 pm.

Tickets are $18 for adults, and tickets are free children, under age 18. To purchase tickets online — https://goo.gl/YLsqCD or call (928)499-0522. For more information, send email to charles@boystomenaz.org. https://www.facebook.com/PlayitForwardFest.

— Information provided by Boys to Men Mentoring Network of Central Arizona.