On October 22, 2017, the Musician Treatment Foundation (MTF) was honored to feature Elvis Costello for its debut benefit concert held at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas. This special event marked the first of a series of concerts to support the groundbreaking new nonprofit founded by orthopedic surgeon, O. Alton Barron, MD.
The evening began upstairs in the Paramount with a lively VIP reception and silent auction. Next, the show kicked off with Dr. Barron speaking passionately about MTF’s mission to provide surgical care for the shoulder, elbow, and hand injuries of under- and uninsured professional musicians. He also highlighted the nonprofit’s close partnerships with HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) and Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.
When Dr. Barron warmly introduced Elvis Costello to the stage, the audience learned that the two men are longtime friends. Both Costello and his wife, award-winning jazz artist Diana Krall, are members of the Musician Treatment Foundation’s Board of Directors and share a deep commitment to helping musicians in need. These personal connections contributed to the emotional impact of Costello’s powerful 2-hour solo performance, “Hits & Headlines / Waifs & Strays.”
Standing before a giant prop resembling an old-time TV displaying slides of film noir posters, 1950s book jackets, and old family photographs, Costello shared vivid stories—from hilarious to deeply moving—lifted from his childhood and career. He paid special homage to his father’s years as a big-band singer and trumpeter, and to his grandfather’s service as an army brass player. Moving between guitar and piano, Costello performed brilliant stripped-down versions of his best-known songs, including “Accidents Will Happen,” “Alison,” and “Everyday I Write the Book.” His new and lesser-known works (“waifs and strays”) were welcomed with equal enthusiasm by the audience, particularly Costello’s moving performance of “A Face In the Crowd” from his new musical-in-progress based on Elia Kazan’s 1957 film, A Face in the Crowd.
By the end of the night, the 1270-seat Paramount Theater had been transformed into an intimate salon shared by a community of friends, even as the thunderous ovation testified to a full house. Audience members stood, side by side, to express their deep appreciation for the show and for the Musician Treatment Foundation’s commitment to caring for injured musicians regardless of their ability to pay. The benefit concert also served as an occasion to acknowledge and honor how much we all depend on music to nourish our hearts, minds, and souls.
Over $250,000 was raised that evening. Dr. Barron expressed his deep gratitude and emphasized that the event would not have been possible without the generosity of Superior HealthPlan, UT Austin’s Dell Medical School, Mark and Lisa Jennings, and all who donated through ticket purchases, auction items, and auction bids. The funds raised have already been hard at work changing the lives of professional musicians who are now receiving care through the Musician Treatment Foundation.
Keep the Music Playing!