Ben Jaffe, seen here with bandmate Suzanne Santo, is a 2003 graduate of Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, where he is returning to play a benefit concert on April 11. (Courtesy photo)
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — They are words that many can relate to.
"I miss my friends, my old school friends/The ones that I've known all my life."
Ben Jaffe, a 2003 graduate of Mount Greylock Regional High School, sings those lyrics in "Old School Friends" with his band honeyhoney.
This Friday, April 11, life might imitate art when Jaffe returns to his alma mater to perform a concert that he hopes will bring the community together to support the Mount Greylock arts program.
"I'm hoping this will be a little bit of reunion," Jaffe said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where honeyhoney is recording its third album. Jaffe is in honeyhoney, which Glide magazine describes as a band that "deftly mixes elements of folk, soul, country, pop and rock," with songstress Suzanne Santo.
In fact, Jaffe said he hopes to "rally the community" to support the arts program, which is facing challenges in an aging building, including the inability to use the school auditorium for theater performances. (The auditorium can be used for concerts, including this one.)
"I just generally hope people will get excited about the schools," he said.
To help generate that excitement, Jaffe is not only performing the evening concert for the community, he also is working with the school's band throughout the day. During that time, he aims to film enough footage for a short documentary that will encourage other musicians to work with their alma maters in a similar way. He doesn't claim he came up with the idea — he credits a friend who did something similar in Minneapolis — but he would like to spread the idea.
"If we can do a good job with this and create some energy ... you should do it," he said.
The concert starts at 8 p.m. and will feature honeyhoney original songs that have been arranged specifically for the high school band, which will perform with Jaffe, as will some other musically inclined Mount Greylock alums. Before the concert, from 7 to 8 p.m., the public is welcome to attend an "open lobby" and tour the school and see the deficiencies beyond the auditorium. After the concert, anyone who bought a ticket for $25 or higher can attend a reception with Jaffe. Tickets are available online.
Jaffe, who now lives full time in Nashville, said he hopes that his presence will help not only raise money but also awareness on the part of the students that they can follow their dreams, whatever they are.
"It's possible to make a living based on interest instead of based on conformity," he said.
And in the meantime, while they are still in school, the students need to know the community supports them.
"I hope that the kids realize people care about the school," he said.