America today is home to over 2.7 million service members who have served in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, with over half of them deployed more than once. Many have returned with wounds both apparent and hidden.
Eric Lewis is one of them – a 20-year Navy petty officer first class, now retired, bringing to fruition his vision of helping his fellow vets integrate back into civilian life through music. Lewis founded Vet-Traxx Project, a non-profit 501(c) organization with a recording studio at its hub.
After meeting with Lewis at the NAMM Show in Anaheim in 2016, Auralex Acoustics saw the potential in Lewis’ idea and the level of his dedication to it and to U.S. military veterans, and contributed substantial amounts of Auralex’s acoustical and noise-control products and systems to the endeavor.
When the studio, located in Galt, California, opened in January, it was fitted with systems including Auralex Studiofoam Pro, Studiofoam Wedgies, ProPanels and HoverMats.
“The Auralex guys were totally receptive to what I was telling them about,” Lewis recalls. “They totally got it – how the ability to make music, to get what they hear in their minds into recorded form has a tremendous healing potential for veterans. Auralex helped make that happen.”
The purpose-built, 16×14-foot studio is small but effective and productive, equipped with systems such as Pro Tools, donated by Avid, accessories from D’addario, and Lewis’ favorite (he’s a drummer): a Mapex drum kit and a complement of Sabian cymbals.
Since it opened, a number of local and area bands – all of which have at least one member who is a veteran – have utilized it. The idea has been so successful in such a short period of time that many of those same artists will appear as part of the 20 bands scheduled to perform at the Norcal Vetstock Festival, the music festival that Lewis and others have created that will take place at V.F.W. Post 6158 in Fair Oaks, CA, on June 24, 2017.
Vet-Traxx Project is also on track to spawn a record label, likewise dedicated to helping military veterans.
Lewis says, “Once we announced the Norcal Vetstock Festival we had over 30 bands that jumped at the chance to be a part of it. Sadly, we had to turn some away since we were limited on time. We appreciate all the support of the bands and want to recognize those bands who are volunteering their time for this cause: ONOFF, Terra Ferno, Natas Lived, Roswell, Diversity of One, Decipher, The Pikeys, GoodWood, The Cash Cartell Band, Anarchy Lace, Malcom Bliss, Circus Runaways, Southbound Band, Graybar Hotel, Korean Fire Drill, Banjo Bones, Widowmaker, Tonic Zephyr, Riotmaker and Smokehouse Reunion.”
Meanwhile, the Vet-Traxx studio rocks on, thanks to the Auralex contributions. “The Auralex acoustical treatment has made our space sound great and gives everyone the opportunity to record their instruments and hear their mixes more accurately,” says Lewis, who also works for as a procurement technician for the federal government. “Auralex was behind us from the beginning. They have bent over backwards and then some for us. It’s great to know they have our backs.”