Sweet Relief Board Members

Victoria Williams Musician – Joshua Tree, CA

An American singer/songwriter and musician, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, she has resided in Southern California throughout her musical career. She is noted for her descriptive songwriting talent, which she has used to immerse the listener of her songs into a vivid feeling of small-town, rural Southern upbringing and life. Her best-known songs include “Crazy Mary”, and “Century Plant”. Finding inspiration in nature, (“Weeds”, “Century Plant,” “Why Look at the Moon”), everyday objects (“Shoes,” “Frying Pan”) and the unseen, as in “Holy Spirit”.

In 1993, Williams’ life took a dramatic turn when she learned that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. In 1993, an array of artists from different genres, including Pearl Jam, Lou Reed, Maria McKee, Soul Asylum, Lucinda Williams and others, joined together to record some of Williams’ songs for a tribute/benefit project called Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams. This led to the creation of the Sweet Relief Fund, a charity that aids professional musicians (of any stature) in need of health care. That year, Williams also released a new album herself, entitled Loose. Pearl Jam had covered her song “Crazy Mary” for Sweet Relief, however, Williams performed her own version of the song, and made a video that brought her closer to public notice and gained her more of a following after it ran on MTV and Vh1 in 1994, and is still played on both cable channels.

In 2006 Victoria was ranked #89 on Paste Magazine’s list of the Top 100 Living Songwriters. The description stated: “Louisiana-born Victoria Williams’ music paints impressionistic, personal portraits of nature (“Century Plant”), of the spiritual (“Holy Spirit”) and of common folk (“Crazy Mary”). Her songs—as distinctive as her high vibrato—dip heavily into the musical palettes of country, folk, rock, gospel and jazz.

J. Mark Matthews MD – Kansas City, MO

Now a practicing anesthesiologist in Kansas City, Dr. Matthews was born and raised in coastal North Carolina. Taking up guitar in his teens and desiring a career in music, he hit the road with his band while still a teen. He soon found it difficult to meet routine living expenses, much less afford health insurance. This prompted his return to university and his eventual career path as a physician.

Currently, Dr. Matthews serves as the Chairman of Anesthesiology at St. Luke’s Hospital, Kansas City’s largest tertiary care hospital. While being aware of Sweet Relief for some time, a chance encounter with founder Victoria Williams in 1998 and subsequent discussions, led to his direct involvement with the charity. He was named to the Board of Directors of Sweet Relief in August 2008.

His experience as a gigging musician and subsequent career in medicine give him a unique perspective on the plight of musicians facing hardship due to medical expenses in today’s challenging health-care environment

Ariel Hyatt Public Relations – New York, NY

Ariel Hyatt is the founder of Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR a New York based digital firm that connects artists to blogs, podcasts, Internet radio stations and social media sites. Over the past 13 years her firm has represented over 1,400 musicians of all genres
Ariel has written dozens of articles on how to navigate the “new” music business and her book: Music Success in Nine Weeks is available at Amazon. She is a contributing blogger to New Music Ideas, and Music Think Tank, and she has spoken at countless music conferences over the years including SXSW 2009, FMC, ECMAs & OCFF (Canada), A2A (Amsterdam),CMJ, BMI Music Panel Series, ASCAP Music Expo 2009, and NARAS.

Ariel Publicity was founded in Colorado. Beautiful Boulder was the perfect place for a new company to launch due to the amazing talent that live in the area and the incredible Fox Theatre (where Ariel proudly served as the PR director for 5 1/2 years.) Boulder and the Fox were the best place to get a masters degree in touring bands. Ariel worked for several Colorado bands that helped to put Boulder on the map including Leftover Salmon, Sally Taylor, Zuba, and Acoustic Junction. For a few years she had a booking agency and handled a ton of Ska bands including The Toasters, Skinnerbox (both childhood favorites), Skavoovie and the Epitones, The Stubborn All Stars, The Slackers and The Skoidats.

Matthew Kaplan Esq. – New Jersey

Matthew Kaplan has been independently practicing entertainment law since 1990. During the past twenty years Mr. Kaplan has focused much of his attention on the indie artists and labels of the world, making sure that they are not taken advantage of. Artist clients have included: Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes/Monsters Of Folk, Ratatat, Avi Buffalo, Titus Andronicus, Real Estate, Deer Tick, Vaselines, Autolux, Oh No Oh My, Dresden Dolls, Ted Leo and Simian Mobile Disco. Label clients have included: Barsuk, Secretly Canadian/ Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans, Carpark/Paw Tracks/Acute, Jade Tree, Polyvinyl, Team Love, Dovecote and Bar/None.

In addition to the foregoing, Mr. Kaplan has also done a smattering of book publishing, film related activities and even did a deal for a model who graced many top fashion magazines. Prior to passing the bar, Mr. Kaplan clerked for the Honorable Anthony J. Scuito, in the Superior Court of New Jersey (Judge Sciuto actually drummed on a No. 1 single back in 1961, “The Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee & The Starlighters). While in law school, Mr. Kaplan was the summer clerk for Honorable Andrew Napolitano, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, who is now a political and legal analyst for Fox News Channel.

Additionally, during his second and third years of law school, Mr. Kaplan, did much of the research for second editions of Leonard D. DuBoff’s “Deskbook of Art Law” (Oxford University Press). On the non-legal side Mr. Kaplan studied music at Eastman School Of Music in Rochester, New York and Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, New York City.

Peter Wark Artist Management – Montreal, Que.

Peter Wark brings a vast knowledge of the music business with work experience in both the US and Canada. In 2001, he was recruited by record executive Dave Lory to assist him at Artemis Records in New York City where he worked with numerous acts, including Kurupt, Warren Zevon and Steve Earle as well as Jimmie Vaughan for the Grammy Award winning record Do You Get the Blues? He then followed Lory in 2002 to start a new venture, Worldwide Entertainment Group, where he assisted in structuring the company and worked in management with such acts as Duncan Sheik, Robert Earl, Keen, and Courtney Love for the release of her first solo record, America’s Sweetheart.

In 2004, he left to concentrate on his own independent record label, Stanton Street Records with producer/engineer Steve Rosenthal, which released four critically acclaimed records featuring Norah Jones, Jesse Harris, Joseph Arthur and Jesse Malin. He dealt with the day-to-day operations including retail, marketing, radio promotion and distribution of the label in the US, UK and Australia.

More recently Peter has been exclusively working in management based out of his Montreal Wark DKD office and in partnership with both Danny Goldberg (Gold Village Entertainment based in NYC) and Ron Stone (Gold Mountain Entertainment based in LA). He is currently is involved with Joseph Arthur, Rickie Lee Jones, Sheldon Gomberg and Bob Schneider.

David Bournazian Esq. – (Council) Laguna Niguel, CA

Complex Litigation; Business Litigation; Insurance Coverage; Environmental Law; Corporate Law
Education University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1996, Rutgers University, B.A., 1991 Admitted 1996, California

Allison Shaw Owner of Manic Monkee Mgmt – Los Angeles, CA

Shaw started her music career as a DJ for mainstream rock format station 94 Rock in Albuquerque.  Allison also was a writer for VH1/MTV online from 1998-2002. In 2004 Shaw started nationally distributed Hyperactive Music Magazine and the Hyperfestival and Conference in New Mexico. Shaw has interviewed over 1000 performers from Elton John to Tina Turner to Lenny Kravitz and Green Day. In 2007 Allison was the Executive Director for the Santa Fe Muzik Fest which had bands like Public Enemy, Wu Tang Clan, The Fray, and many more. Allison helped create awareness and built relations for the music.us/.music brand, going around the world educating people on the .music extension that will be available in 2013. Shaw was the Director Of Operations for Listen Records/Sony, and is one the Event Producers and talent bookers for Rachael Ray’s Feedback parties at SXSW.

Allison holds a seat on the New Mexico Music Commission and also owns Manic Monkee Mgmt and Brand Development, which manages bands and producers and does marketing campaigns and consulting and brand alignment for all kinds of brands, produces events and sponsorships. Shaw currently heads up all Brand Development for Newest Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee Public Enemy and Digital Distribution company Spit Digital owned by Chuck D,  Jammer.fm, Nourishmat, .Standing Sun Wineries, Jakprints, and several others.

Sheldon Gomberg Musician, Producer, Engineer – Los Angeles, CA
We were going to include a bio of Sheldon Gomberg here and reconsidered.  A list of credits and accomplishments, although considerable and impressive, would not impart what you should all know and feel about this wonderful man.
In life, if you are fortunate enough, we encounter individuals that change our way of thinking and acting.  Men and woman of character and principle.  For us, Sheldon has been one of those life changers.  If we only told you how Sheldon has risen far above the challenges he must overcome with MS, it would be a strong and soulful message.  If we told you about his driving passion as a music producer and the lengthy hours he gives to each and every project, seeking sonic perfection and audible warmth, this would also tell a great tale.
What we want you to know about Sheldon is that he possesses an unwavering respect and consideration for all those that come into his world.  He honors his relationships with artists and refuses to sacrifice their privacy and artistry.  He will work hard to achieve a goal but will not do anything he believes is selfish, self -seeking or inconsiderate.  He is steadfast and straightforward, caring and loving.  We are grateful to know him, work with him and learn from him.

Bill Bennett Fullerton, CA

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