© Michael Nesbitt - Journal-Pioneer
Taylor Hanson chats with one of 75 participants who joined him and his brothers for a 1.6km barefoot stroll along the Summerside Baywalk, in support of the band’s charitable projects.
SUMMERSIDE – It’s unusual to see someone walking barefoot along the Baywalk in November, but the band Hanson was able to encourage about half of a group of 75 fans to do just that Saturday afternoon.
The Grammy-nominated group, consisting of brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, who have been performing and recording for 21 years, was in the city for a performance on their Anthem World Tour. As with their other performances since 2007, they invited local fans and others to join them in a barefoot ‘Take The Walk’ stroll for charity.
Hanson donates one dollar for each person registered for the walk. Each walker identified one of five charities the band supports, all tied to poverty, to apply their contribution.
Taylor Hanson, who proved to be the main spokesman for the event, explained that walking barefoot helps differentiate what they are trying to accomplish.
“It’s about connecting people in a tangible way to poverty, and specifically HIV / AIDS, because if you can deal with poverty you can deal with the issues of HIV in the communities in Africa. The cycle of poverty contributes massively to that disease being spread,” he detailed.
Hanson likes the idea that the charity events are humble and unpolished.
“The whole idea is that you have to do things daily. What makes a difference is what you do when no one is looking,” he said, but he had no problem with being noticed along the Baywalk.
“We’re encouraging others to hold events. The most valuable benefit is going to happen as people decide to organize in small groups, wherever they are. That compounds!”
Rather than the charity event serving to help the tour, elder brother Isaac notes that the tour provides a unique opportunity: when they are in each city, they can inspire others to take their day and turn it into something positive for someone else.
“The only positive in a purely band-related way, is that we get the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with our fans.”
That contact can go a long way.
Beverly Shiner came from Boston to attend the concert, and ‘Take The Walk’. She has been to thirty Hanson concerts and has walked in cities across the continent.
“If that is what the band is passionate about doing, I think their fans will follow and help support that cause,” she stated from experience.
That connection is important for youngest sibling Zac, now 28.
“You get to spend time with people who care about your music,” he admitted.
Even if fans don’t have a passion for international aid, he said, they can be inspired to do something for their local area, participation giving confidence to make it happen.
15-year-old Jesse Arsenault, from Miscouche, was prompted to attend by his sister and mother.
“I thought the charity thing was interesting, and decided to come out and do it,” he said.
He trod the first half in shoes, but did the return barefoot, inspired by Taylor Hanson’s overview of the project at the half-way point.
Senior Linda Little, of Summerside, ignored her rheumatoid arthritis and knee replacement aches to join the walk as well. Not a longtime fan, she was aware of Hanson's success and was looking forward to being an usher at the concert, but it was the chance to make a contribution that was her successful goal.