For those of us who knew the words to Crass’s “Banned From the Roxy” as teenagers and now give bubble baths to our young children, the term “Punk Is Dad” elicits a loaded smirk. But the pun is actually a reference to Dorian DeLong, a father, arts-in-schools advocate and punk rocker who passed away suddenly in 2015.
DeLong left behind a wife and daughter, and a legacy as an inspirational social-studies teacher at Thornton High School. After he died, friends put together a scholarship and annual benefit concert in Denver, Punk Is Dad, in his honor.
This year’s edition spotlights four explosive local bands and will raise money for the Dorian DeLong Arts and Music scholarship, which has already awarded two four-year scholarships to Denver-area students.
Shaylyn DeLong, Dorian’s widow, says Punk Is Dad “illustrates the many passions Dorian had in his life. He was a fixture in the Denver music scene and was energized by live music. He cherished being a father and staying close to his punk roots.”
According to Shaylyn, “The scholarship celebrates the arts and encourages students to keep the love of the arts alive.”
Timothy Costello, a singer and trombonist, is in his first year at Colorado State University with the help of the DDAM scholarship. Ceramicist Maria Jimenez, currently a senior at Standley Lake High School in Westminster, was awarded the DDAM scholarship last year and plans to become an art teacher after attending Metro State University of Denver.
The positive effect that Dorian DeLong is still having on young people in the Denver area extends not only to the teenagers afforded the chance to attend college, but also to the emerging bands that lend their services to Punk Is Dad’s annual benefit concerts.
“Although we were never fortunate enough to know Dorian, we've seen the impact that he and the DDAM have made in Denver,” says Jordan Palmer of gritty “dance punk” duo Plastic Daggers.
“We’re honored to be able to make noise for Punk Is Dad,” Palmer says. “The lineup is amazing, and we'd be in the audience if we weren't already invited to participate.”
Jason Sorter, a close friend of DeLong's, says Punk Is Dad “came about by accident.”
Some old buddies of DeLong put “Punk Is Dad” on T-shirts, having seen it on their late friend’s Facebook profile, and wore them to music festivals after his death. Organizing a memorial turned into an idea for a concert, and the Oriental Theater stepped in to offer the space at no charge. High-energy local groups like Colfax Speed Queen and Bud Bronson & the Good Timers have played Punk Is Dad.
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"We are excited to be playing at Punk Is Dad because we are proud to be a part of something benefiting a musical scholarship," says Demi Demitro of the Velveteers. "We believe music is extremely important and can help change lives."
Along with sets by Plastic Daggers, the Velveteers and others, this year’s Punk Is Dad aims to raise money through a silent auction and sales of T-shirts and an official poster.
“Every one of the boardmembers is a parent,” says Sorter, “and we’re all big advocates of funding arts and music education in public schools. [Punk Is Dad] snowballed into something we’re committed to do every year now. The past two years, we’ve been able to raise about $35,000. The goal is to award one four-year scholarship per year.”
Punk Is Dad Benefit Concert, featuring MF RUCKUS, the Velveteers, Ned Garthe Explosion and Plastic Daggers, 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, $12-$120, 720-420-0030.