Meet The Team

Bill Bennett President

Bill brings a wealth of music industry experience along with a broad business background to his role as President at Sweet Relief. Over the past 20 years Bill has taken on leadership positions as a manager, executive and entrepreneur in Entertainment Retail, Venue Operations (Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO.), Artist’s Management (Solis Liberi & Secret Chief Management) and Event Promotion. These past endeavors have allowed Bill to work effectively with various entertainment industry partners Sweet Relief has recently developed. Bill’s many close relationships with musicians affords him great understanding and compassion with those reaching out for assistance.

As Sweet Relief’s financial steward, Bill is able to reach into his many years of experience as an Executive with SRG, a large national hospitality corporation. Specializing in Franchise Development and Regional Management, Bill obtained broad skills in finance, accounting, human resources, marketing and bottom line results.

A lifelong participation in charity and goodwill endeavors may be Bill’s most important aspect as a leader at Sweet Relief. Bill has taken on commitments as a youth mentor, participated on numerous hospital panels and volunteered for national charities. Bill also acts as an advisor and advocate for many other entertainment based charities and charities at large.


 

Aric Steinberg Executive Vice President of Development & Artist Relations

Aric’s past experience in the music industry included working with entertainment and venue acquisition in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.

As an Operating Partner with Brick Oven Restaurants, Aric opened and operated four locations in Southern California. At each location he was able to reach out to the local communities and create partnerships and sponsorships with the populace. Numerous GM positions at top restaurants and music venues allowed Aric to create special events, local benefits for charities, and several charitable sponsorships.

Aric’s experience with major hospitality corporations included spearheading new venue openings in Los Angeles, Orange County, Las Vegas and Arizona. Within his professional and personal life, Aric has been able to create strong ties with the communities and participate in civic-minded activities.

Aric studied Creative Writing while attending Antioch University, has worked closely with one of the top fundraising consultants in the nation, and has completed the rigorous grant writing program at the prestigious Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles. His passion for music, his dedication to helping people and his history of leadership and charitable contributions make him a perfect fit to lead the Sweet Relief development team.


 Brittani Escobedo Program Manager

As Program Manager, Brittani works directly with the musicians and music-industry professionals that Sweet Relief aims to help. Her devotion and knowledge of music started at an early age, and is what initially sparked her interest in working for Sweet Relief. Over time that passion transcended into the intense desire to aid suffering artists in need. She has since dedicated her work to providing assistance to these artists by listening to their stories, working with them daily to offer guidance and support, as well as collaborating with other professionals to help them in the greatest possible capacity.

 


Tatiana Clay Development & Social Media

Tatiana has been working closely with Aric in the development department for 4 years. Recently, she’s taken on additional roles with the Sweet Relief team. As well as her development and fundraising duties, she will focus her time on growing the Street-Team, taking over social media platforms, and motivating the public to engage with Sweet Relief. She is eager to share her passion and excitement about helping musicians, and to further educate people about opportunities to get involved, upcoming events, and music news close to our hearts. 

 

 


Chey Gomez Development Assistant 

Cheyenne, otherwise known as Chey (Sh-ay), started as an intern with Sweet Relief in January of 2017. She is a graduating senior at Cal State University, Fullerton, yet she still managed to devote substantial time and energy to our cause at events and in the office. Her willingness to learn, as well as her love for music and passion for helping others, gave us all the reasons we needed to bring her onto our staff as our newest Development Assistant.

 

 


Mark Hauber Outreach San Francisco (Volunteer)

Josh Sonnenberg Outreach Denver (Volunteer)

Tracey Newman Outreach Boston (Volunteer)

 

Sweet Relief Super Interns & Volunteers We could not do this without them.

Davey Ferchow, Shannon Mayers, Melissa Kim, Reem Haddad, Jessica Massey,
Rob “DjWitz” Abramowitz, Victoria Lanclos, Poelene Silla, Jenifer Tirre,
Devon Sullivan,  Carina Wong,  Zango Vu, Amanda Lopin, Joanie Kwong , June Miranda,  Celeste Jimenez, Ken Nhu, Megan Patterson, Cameron Doan, Storm Dye, Cameron Korta, Corey Glockner


In memory of Rob Max  Executive Director 2008-2017


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 – Peter J. Wark Management Inc – Montreal, Que.

Peter J. Wark Management Inc. is an artist management company based in Montreal, Canada and a frequent partner and collaborator with other management companies, particularly Gold Mountain Entertainment who have offices in Vail, CO and Nashville, TN.

www.peterwark.com


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 BennettFullerton, CA
President


Sweet Relief Advisory Board

The follow individuals comprise the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund Advisory Board.

Mike Rouse Band Manager, Tour Manager, Band Member, Club Manager, Promoter, Action Sports Industry Veteran. Motorcycle Industry Veteran, Author, Next?
www.xtheband.com

As you can see, Mike is uniquely a product of Southern California. Yes – he seems to know everyone as he has successfully engaged in so many related industries. An entrepreneur by nature, Mike sites his ability to identify an opportunity as his main strength. Relationships and a win/win approach to business rank a close second. Mike has been involved with the landmark punk band X since he negotiated the deal that saw the return of the band to its original form in 1997. Under Mike’s management, 2009 saw the original lineup’s first return to Europe since 1983, their eighth US National Tour since 1998, the 2nd Annual X-MAS events and a pair of XMAS songs released. Mike has been a strong supporter of Sweet Relief over the years and we look forward to what’s next!

Don Strasburg VP and Senior Talent Buyer, AEG Live Rocky Mountains
www.aeglive.com

Eric Pirritt Manager for the band STS9 and VP, Live Nation Rocky Mountains
www.livenation.com – www.sts9.com

Keith Mitchell Screenwriter

Keith Mitchell previously teamed with writing partner Eric Champnella on “Eddie,” the basketball comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg and the baseball movie, Mr. 3000 starring Bernie Mac. The duo have penned several other studio scripts, and partnered on the Disney telefilm “Mail to the Chief,” which Mitchell Executive Produced.

On his own Mitchell wrote the NASCAR movie, “Off Track” for Warner Brothers and the MOW “Nerve.” His other television credits include the half-hour pilots “Front Office”, “Hollywood Hills Adjacent” and “Meet the Smiths.”

His most recent works include “Cheaper By The Dozen 3” (Fox) “The Club ” (Paramount) “Like Mike II” (Twentieth Century Fox) and “The Sandlot 3” (Twentieth Century Fox) and Dr. Doolittle 3. Current TV projects are “On Tour” (Paramount Network TV) with Michael Deluca producing and Brewster’s Billion’s (ABC).

This fall, “Spy V. Stu” (starring Pierce Brosnan) goes into production with Mitchell writing and producing.

Born and raised in Southgate, Michigan, he accepted a scholarship from the University of Michigan, playing for legendary coach Bo Schembechler on two Rose Bowl squads. He credits his experience on the gridiron for all of his success as a writer.

Mitchell currently resides in Orange County, California with wife Kimberlee and two children, Chloe and Kellen and his dog Gracie.

Eric Mayers Tour Manager (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists) /Production Manager

Eric Mayers is a tour and production manager based in Portland, Oregon. He is married and an expectant father. Focusing his talents on single truck, full production theatre tours, he enjoys the challenge of bringing productions into a variety of facilities and making it work. Mayers also produces a number of boutique music festivals, and larger one off events throughout the country. Mayers has worked for independent promoters throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Double Tee Concerts, and most recently served five years as the Vice President of Touring and Production for LMG Concerts, a boutique firm producing the majority of the C.C.M. tours in the market, as well as Columbia Meadows Amphitheatre, outside of Portland, OR. Currently Mayers is working independently, his touring clients include My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, Nickel Creek among others. He really likes ponies.

Patch Rubin Musician

www.patchguitars.com

www.patchdub.com

Patch has been actively playing music most of his life. He played guitar in various bands and for over a decade he was member and driving force in the live electronica band Heavyweight Dub Champion which fused deep dub with intelligent hip-hop. HDC has headlined and been a featured artist in major festivals, clubs and underground gatherings throughout the US, Europe and Canada. He’s recently put out a few solo electronic albums.

These days he lives in the high desert outside of Taos, NM where he has been focusing on building acoustic guitars.

Rynda Laurel Founder/CEO 1968media
www.rynda.me

Rynda has an extensive background in the music business, digital marketing, social media, and business development. Currently she is focused on working with established music artists such as Chuck D, The Afghan Whigs and The Smashing Pumpkins, managing all digital strategy and direct-to-fan management. She also consults for startup technology companies and is on advisory boards for a number of non-profit organizations including Sweet Relief. Because of her expertise in these different areas you will often find her speaking at international conferences on a variety of subjects. For more information go to www.rynda.me

Jared Levy Co-Founder and Senior Partner Subset M
www.subsetm.com

Interested in applying his creative talents and marketing sense to the world of entertainment, Jared has focused his efforts on the world of music for the last few years. In this short time he has developed a track record of success developing cutting edge campaigns for major labels and platinum artists ranging from EMI to Nickelback to CBS Records.

With his company SUBSET M he has helped develop hundreds of artists and is now working on larger digital initiatives and viral marketing campaigns for clients such as: Barak Obama, Kraft/SC Johnson web programming, and Gatorade to name a few. Recognized as a leader in online marketing, he has been hired to speak at large corporate gatherings, the DIY convention, Universities and more. Jared is also currently an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado where he lectures and leads a class on new media marketing for the Journalism school where he graduated.

Benjamin Myers Art Director, Genesis Creative

As the Art Director of Genesis Creative, Benjamin Myers specializes in brand identity and web design. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Laguna College of Art and Design, Benjamin accepted a graphic arts position with the marketing firm, George P. Johnson. As the senior designer, he created the look and feel for Honda’s 2008 exhibit, presented at all major U.S. auto shows. In collaboration with the art department, Benjamin contributed to the 2008 Acura project and played a vital role in earning his team the Communication Arts Interactive Award for their work on Honda’s interactive display.

Following his success with George P. Johnson, Benjamin served as the Art Director for a start up television network, ZCity TV. His accomplishments included the branding of two reality television shows, development of ZCity’s Executive Summary, and the creation of an Affiliate Sales Kit distributed to cable providers. His responsibilities involved video production, oversight of ZCity’s website design, and development of key-note presentations. Benjamin also developed motion graphics, created web design, and collaborated with 3 Ring Circus to brand ZCity TV. Throughout his employment term, he worked as a freelance designer branding multiple companies including: Santis Creative, Baldemar Fierro Photography, Andrew Myers Art, GreenTree Music Academy, and Sweet Relief. His passions for art, music, travel and surfing are reflected in the creativity of his work – modern, clean, fresh, and above all, inspiring.

Regius Gunawan Owner, Dev Panda
www.devpanda.com

Experienced LAMP developer Regius has worked with and for various clients in building many different kinds of applications. He specializes in PHP, HTML & CSS, Javascript, Java, C++, Perl, SQL (MySQL & Oracle), and UNIX & Linux. He has constructed very complex web-based systems, directed multiple web development facets and technical aspects for companies with large amounts of traffic, maintained web-publishing systems, and lead many teams to accomplish victories over serious web development and technical issues. While his job is to handle complicated problems on web development, his work ethic is simple: he delivers your project.

Caroline Rustigian Bruderer CEO/K-Line & Company

www.k-linepr.com

For the past 25+ years, Caroline has been pushing the envelope to create dynamic and highly successful integrated marketing and PR campaigns for consumer technology, culinary, entertainment, lifestyle, non-profit and social causes.

Employing a proven mix of traditional and digital expertise, Caroline has executed campaigns for clients such as Capitol Records, dineLA Restaurant Week, Estee Lauder/Clinique, Hermes of Paris, HBO, Legendary Rock Photographer Jim Marshall, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Phillips, The Plant Recording Studios, Seagram & Sons, the 2002 SLC Winter Olympics, United States Senate, Warner Bros. Records, and YouTube.

Her social cause work includes various advisory board positions and volunteer work for: Active Music, Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Foundation, Beckstrand Cancer Foundation, Our Conservatory, The Respect Institute and Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund. Most recently, she was the Director of Public Relations & Communications at Visit Newport Beach Inc., and was an integral part of the organizations marketing team.

A graduate of Arizona State University and the Richmond College in London, United Kingdom, Caroline is an active philanthropist, and devotee of great food and live music,  a 4th Week camper at the Lair of the Golden Bear-Camp Gold, and is in search is the perfect pizza.  She lives in Laguna Beach with her husband and three sons.

Charlie Dahan Department of Recording Industry/Tenured and Promoted to Professor 

Professor Dahan earned his BA in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1992), his Masters of Music from the State University of New York, Purchase College (2000), and is currently working on a PhD in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University. He teaches the Survey of the Recording Industry, History of the Recording Industry, and a class he developed with Ariel Hyatt, Cyber PR in the Entertainment Industry. Currently, he serves on the National Advisory Board for the Starr-Gennett Foundation in Richmond, Indiana and on the Online Media Board for the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.
 
Professor Dahan spent seven years as the A&R Director at Shanachie Records where he signed and/or worked with artist such at the Skatalites, Rufus Thomas, Bill Doggett, Lester Bowie, Duke Robillard, Double Trouble, Anders Osborne, Sue Foley, Debbie Davies, and Sara Hickman. He produced or oversaw the production of over 100 commercially released albums, including two by the Skatalites, both of which received Grammy nominations. Additionally, he was a talent agent at the Roots Agency for overfive years, where he booked tours for the Chieftains, Carlene Carter, Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, and Dala, amongst many others.
 
Currently he is working on two books about Gennett Records, a discography and one in the Images of America series (Fall 2016) for Arcadia Publishing. He writes for and administers blogs and social media properties for Gennett Records and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. In 2015, he co-authored the National Register for Historic Places nomination for FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. From 2002-2007, he was the sound and scoreboard operator for the Oneonta Tigers, a Single A Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
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