The McIlquhams Rock for Vets with Music, Kindness – Press Telegram

What does a child do when his mother gives him pots, pans and large spoons to play with? What else ? He hits it as hard as he can and makes a lot of noise. That’s what Frank McIlquham did when he was growing up in Houston, Texas. “I’m sure it caused a lot of headaches for my mom, dad and two brothers. “McIlquham said last week.

Frank McIilquham on drums. (Courtesy Rock for vets)

But McIlquham eventually quit banging pots and pans and started playing on real drums. He has become so good at it that he has performed professionally with touring musicians in Australia and elsewhere for over 10 years. It also led him in 2010, along with Jerry Salas, to found Rock for Vets, a nonprofit program in Long Beach using music to help veterans with mental or physical injuries. The program offers veterans the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument or sing along and be part of the group guided by former and current music industry professionals. McIlquham plays the drums when the band performs at various events in the area. wonderful to give back to these veterans who have given so much of themselves to our country, ”said McIlquham.

A Rock for Vets anniversary for a 100 year veteran. (Courtesy Rock for vets)

His wife, Katherine McIlquham, former director of development for the California Conference for Equality and Justice, is the group’s administrator. “Although Frank and I come from very different backgrounds and cultures, we want to give back to society and our community. She said. Growing up in Houston Frank said his family didn’t have a lot of money and they lived in a trailer for about two years. always the right one in any situation and recognized that other people were much worse than us, ”he said.

Volunteering with Meals on Wheels. (Courtesy Rock for vets)

He remembered how he and his mother would get on their bikes, buy a bag of oranges and give them to the homeless under bridges. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas year, they would find someone who was alone and invite them to eat with the McIlquhams at their home. now, ”Frank said. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1969, but moved to Houston when he was 5 or 6 years old. “We grew up in a neighborhood full of up-and-coming musicians who got into trouble together, jumped out of two-story buildings, played soccer during hurricanes and caused my mom a lot of grief,” he said. . offices with all my family, selling popcorn at the Astrodome.

Frank, Jerry Salas and Charles Rick Roche rock for members of the band Vets in June 2021 to celebrate Jerry’s 70th birthday. (Courtesy Rock for vets)

He graduated from high school and got jobs at a bank and travel agency, which moved him to New Orleans where he met his first wife, who was Australian. They moved to Melbourne, got married but divorced after seven years.

In Melbourne, Frank was a financial planner for a bank, which led him to help the indigenous people of northern Australia create business plans to become self-reliant. He met Katherine, who was also divorced, at an office party, and they married in 2000. Katherine was born and raised in London.

“My mother and grandmother were both involved in various philanthropic causes with children, seniors and military families,” she said. “They were field volunteers. My father was also very generous by donating to many charities. We were raised to help others who were less fortunate than us. After attending the University of Glasgow, Scotland, Katherine joined Thomas Cook Travel and traveled to Melbourne to be with her first husband. They eventually broke up and Katherine and Frank got married. In 2007, Frank and Katherine moved to Long Beach, where one of his brothers lived. It also brought him closer to his parents who lived in Houston. Frank and Katherine have since moved to Signal Hill. In Long Beach, the McIlquhams started The Rock Club, a for-profit company that gives music lessons to individuals. “We wanted to help more people through music,” Katherine said.

She said Frank had always felt a void in his life because he had never served in the military. His average brother was a retired Marine; his older brother had served in the coast guard, his father in the air force and his uncle in the army. . “One thing led to another and after meeting Jerry Salas, Vietnam veteran and lead singer of El Chicano, a pioneering Latin rock band, they launched Rock for Vets. Salas first met McIlquham in 2009 when McIlquham was running a music program helping children at Cabrillo High School. McIlquham said he needed a music coach to help him out, and Salas was recommended to him.

Last year, the coronavirus nearly killed Salas, but he survived. “I am alive and grateful for every day I am around,” he said as he was released from hospital after 48 days of isolation and treatment. Rock for Vets has helped over 300 local veterans since its inception. The program is open to any veteran at no cost. Before the pandemic, the group met at the Long Beach Scottish Rite building, which donates space to the program at 855 Elm Ave. As the pandemic began last year, the McIlquhams realized it was even more important to keep veterans connected, as many felt even more isolated than before. They immediately switched from weekly in-person rehearsals to Zoom meetings and started recording music remotely. Rock for Vets has recorded 12 songs since the start of the pandemic, with each band member recording their part over the phone. The parts are then mixed and the final song is produced and published via YouTube, Facebook and the Rock for Vets website. “Franck said.” Our network is growing and we are excited to be able to help more veterans every month. “Frank said he was proud of every veteran in the program. Addictions, Start Talking and to look people in the eye, get married and be part of society, ”he said.

He attributed much of the success to Katherine, her volunteers, sponsors and coaches like head coach Salas, James Grover and Bryan Koenen. In the short term, the McIlquhams’ goal is to come together in person for weekly rehearsals and power to perform at events, with a fundraiser for the Veterans Day celebration planned at Jimmy E’s Bar and Grill in Signal Hill.

Their longer term vision is to deliver multiple in-person and Zoom programs at the local and interstate level.

“We just want to help a lot more veterans. They deserve it, ”Frank said.

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Michael Terry

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