By Sean Hartnett
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Henrik Lundqvist and John McEnroe are two of the most celebrated athletes New York has ever seen. Their intensity and passion for their respective sports has allowed them to reign supreme over opponents.
Two additional shared passions in their lives are music and charity. Off the ice and away from the tennis court, they wholeheartedly lend their time promoting a number of worthy charities and philanthropic ventures.
Their latest project 'Rock of Dreams' combines their love for music and willingness to help children in need. Lundqvist and McEnroe form part of a band dubbed The Noise Upstairs that will play The Canal Room on February 22nd. Ticket sales and funds raised by silent auction will benefit The Garden of Dreams Foundation and scholarships for John McEnroe's Tennis Academy.
"I've been running into Johnny Mac a bunch of times over the years and we talked about playing music together. This year, we started playing and came up with the idea to have a concert," Lundqvist explained to me after Thursday's game.
McEnroe and Lundqvist are playing guitar and will be joined by Jay Weinberg on drums and Jake Siberon on bass. Jay is the son of Max Weinberg, longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. He's performed on stage with The Bouncing Souls, The Used, Madball, Against Me! and of course, Springsteen. Tarah and John Healy will provide vocals. Tarah and Jake previously worked together in a band named Unfinished Animal that combined powerful vocals and high-energy guitars.
I chatted with Lundqvist about the project and his involvement with The Garden of Dreams Foundation. The idea of putting on a benefit concert started through Henrik making friends who he'd jam with when his schedule allowed him.
"I've known Jay for a few years. We met at a Bruce concert and we just talked about jamming together. We've been doing that for a couple years. He's amazing. So it's not the same level that he's used to," Lundqvist said.
Fans of HBO's 24/7 series may remember seeing Lundqvist, McEnroe and friends practicing during a studio session.
"We started to think about this in the fall and then we started playing together and came up with a good idea of raising money," Lundqvist revealed.
'Rock of Dreams' is just another creative idea brainstormed by Henrik. Lundqvist auctioned off his Winter Classic helmet which raised $35,000 for The Garden of Dreams and launched his own 'Crown Collection' apparel line that is available to purchase inside Madison Square Garden. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the charity.
Lundqvist spoke about his experiences working with The Garden of Dreams. "I've been doing this since my first year since I got here. I'm proud to be the spokesperson for The Garden of Dreams. I think it's a great organization. What can you say? It feels good to be a part of it."
He continued, "As players, we don't need to do much to help these kids feel better and have a good afternoon. I'm excited about the whole thing."
Usually, there will be about ten to twenty children attending Rangers' games courtesy of Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik and ticket donors. Henrik and the Rangers have spent the season reaching out. In September, they visited families from the NYPD Widows and Children's Fund, Uniformed Firefighters Association and Wounded Warrior Project. Ruslan Fedotenko and Stu Bickel toured New York with a group of kids in January. The always popular Casino Night will take place later this month on the 28th.
For a preview of what you may expect to hear at Wednesday's 'Rock of Dreams' benefit, visit youtube.com/TARAHHEALY to see some videos of the band performing an acoustic set at Tiny's in Tribeca. Some popular songs covered include 'Rolling In The Deep' by Adele, 'One' by U2, 'My Hero' by Foo Fighters and 'Wonderwall' by Oasis.
"Right now, we're just doing it through invites, so we're sending e-mails out to people that sign up on the website. We'll see how many tickets are left next week," Lundqvist mentioned.
Further information and the opportunity to acquire any remaining tickets for the event can be found at the The Rock of Dreams website. To learn more about how The Garden of Dreams helps children facing obstacles, visit their website.
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