Blue October raises $21,000 for Houston Police Force

Rey Roldan, ReyBee, Inc.

In the current world of cultural and ideological divide, benevolence is in short supply, especially when extended to upholders of the law. To combat this, alternative rock band BLUE OCTOBER organized a benefit concert in Houston, TX this past weekend [sic] – Saturday, July 27, 2019 whose proceeds supported The Houston Police Officers Union’s Assist the Officer (ATO), a non-profit organization providing short-term, immediate need financial assistance for officers critically injured or disabled in the line of duty. Raising $21,000 for the event alone and bringing massive attention to the cause, Blue October rose above and beyond to support the boys in blue.

Blue October – Photo by Chris Barber

“To have a group of Blue October’s status be aware of and acknowledge law enforcement and more directly the Houston Police Department is, by itself, remarkable,” said Sergeant Tom Hayes, Vice President of Houston Police Officers Union and Chairman of Assist the Officer. “Then they go out of their way and make Assist the Officer part of the music festival as a fundraising beneficiary, amazing. Over $20,000 was raised for police officers in need.  We are blown away by this response.”

Together with performance support from acclaimed electronic artist Robert DeLong, beloved indie rock troubadour Ben Kweller, and synth rock up and comers Morgxn, Blue October organized Houston’s Music & Arts Festival which took place at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, TX this past Saturday.  A celebration that included food, tattoo artists, barbers and music, the festival’s main goal was to raise money and awareness for ATO, an organization close to the band’s heart.  “Growing up with a father in the Houston police department taught me loyalty, bravery, and mostly honesty,” says frontman Justin Furstenfeld.  “Both my father and his younger brother were Houston police officers and I remember the time my father would spend away from us putting himself through so much danger and unexpected situations. He was not only passionate about being an officer, but he always saw Houston as his own and everyday suited up to protect it.”

Aerial view of Blue October performing at Houston’s Music & Art Festival

Adds brother/drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld, “I just thought that he had a cool and exciting job. I didn’t realize the dangers he faced until I grew up a li’l bit and started to see that everybody’s daddy who was a cop, didn’t always come home. My family was blessed to have a cop for a dad who came home every day after his shift and was never injured although he was in harm’s way.  I’m proud of my Dad and every cop out there who is doing it right. We need those men and women and we appreciate the sacrifices they make while they are wearing that uniform and badge.”

Organizing the event didn’t come with its trepidation. “I will confess to having a preconceived opinion that this fan base may not be police friendly,” admits Sergeant Hayes, “but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Of all the events ATO has had, I don’t believe we have ever had as much positive interaction with a group of citizens as we had with those attending the festival. From handshakes and hugs to words of support and purchases of bottles of water for the newest four-legged member of the Houston Police Department’s K9 division, it was phenomenal.”

Another group shot: left to right, Sgt. Tom Hayes, Justin Furstenfeld, Doug Griffith, Officer Tim Whitaker, Officer Steven Duffy, Officer P. K. Ngo, Officer Jason Knox and ATO Board Member Gabriela Gregory. Photo by Michael Gregory

“The words of support and respect for law enforcement from Justin Furstenfeld and some of the other bands really registered with the ATO staff most of whom are active or retired HPD,” he continues. “Blue October’s music resonates with many police officers. We have many in law enforcement, not just in Houston, but across the country who struggle with some of the same life issues as reflected in the music. The festival was a great avenue for ATO to make the public aware of Assist the Officer and the mission of supporting officers who are injured or ill. Officers who are ill or injured are unable to work overtime or extra jobs, which often creates a financial burden for the family. ATO is there to help fill the gap and assist in keeping the officer on stable financial ground during those difficult times.”

Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October

“I couldn’t be more proud to be in a position to help give back to those who really need it,” says Jeremy.  “Those officers and their families sacrifice it all to protect and serve our community. I’m proud to be a little part of trying to serve them. Houston Police Proud!”

“To me my father is one of the bravest men alive,” concludes Justin, “and I have been blessed to grow up alongside of the Houston Police Department My father always put God and family first, so we knew every day he went in to work that he would be helping make every Houston family a bit safer. I’m honored and proud to be the son of Danny Furstenfeld and will work hard every day to carry the message he instilled in me. ‘If the task is once begun never leave until it’s done. Be the labor great or small do the job well or not at all’.“

About Blue October

THE CHECK: ATO raised more than $20,000 at this great event. This check represents a large amount of that total, which also included raffle and t-shirt sales. Left to right: ATO’s Gabriela Gregory, HPOU 3rd Vice President Tom Hayes, Retired Officer and ATO Founder Michael Mitchell, Retired Officer Bill Booth, K-9 Officer Kristin Uhlin, K-9 Officer Gary Doyle and their K-9 Bolt. Photo by Michael Gregory

Blue October’s ninth album I Hope You’re Happy  debuted at #7 on Billboard’s Album Chart and #2 on its Alternative Album Chart. Known for their previous platinum singles like “Into The Ocean,” “Hate Me,” and “Calling You,” the new album, which embraces Furstenfeld’s new  lease on life, enjoyed immediate success with its first two singles “I Hope You’re Happy” and “Daylight,”  both of which charted high on US Alternative Airplay Chart. After spending 25 weeks on the US Alternative Airplay Chart and peaking at #14, “I Hope You’re Happy” crossed over to the US Hot AC Chart, reaching #34 and being the 35th most-played song in 2018. “Daylight” hit #22 on the US Alternative Airplay Chart, making “Daylight” the second song from I Hope You’re Happy to impact this chart. Their latest single “King” reached #34 on the Alternative Chart too, making it their third track on that chart’s Top 40 in less than a year. The fact that I Hope You’re Happy was released on indie label Up/Down-Brando Records makes this feat even more notable.  GET BACK UP, a documentary about Justin’s struggle and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and his battle with mental health, will be premiering on the film festival circuit Fall 2019.