Before Ozomatli rocked the Ogden on Saturday night, the genre-bending L.A.-based act stopped by the Spot at Urban Peak, which offers services to homeless and runaway youth in Denver, where it played a free one-hour acoustic show. Instead of just playing a couple songs and leaving, the band interacted with the kids, even inviting them to play with them.
Since the beginning, Ozomatli has forged a reputation for using music not just as entertainment, but as social activism. At its visit to Urban Peak, the band encouraged the kids to believe in themselves. "It was important for me as a young person to have someone older say that I could be a musician," guitarist, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Raul Pacheco told the kids. "It doesn't have to be music. Whatever it is you're into, it can be done."
Bassist Wil-Dog Abers shared his story of growing up homeless in Venice Beach, where he lived out of a bus with his unemployed mother and drug-addicted stepfather. He talked about being afraid of his future, but shared how his drive to become a musician pushed him through the tough time. "I always had a vision of my life that I was going to end up on the street," Abers said. "I had a stronger passion for music. You know, I always wanted to make it."
After battling drug addiction with the help of his band members, Abers wanted to share his message with kids who have a similar background. "It's possible to change," he said. "And it's possible to change the way you feel about yourself." After the members of Ozomatli got done playing, the kids prepared a gift for the band: a signed poster featuring murals they had painted. Then everybody sat down for dinner, followed by desert -- ice cream donated by Little Man Ice Cream.
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