Published by the Columbia Missourian                                                                              10.09.03


A melody for all maladies

Banastre Tarleton sings to heal with the All You Need Is Love Tour

          He’s done extreme decibel levels and the head-banging routine. His singles hit the top of the charts in the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000. He sings, pens his own songs, plays the acoustic guitar and keyboards, and has self-produced 22 releases on his own Green Horse label.  In addition, former Bill Haley & The Comets keyboardist, Joey Welz, has released three albums of Banastre’s music on Caprice International.

Banastre Tarleton, the star of the Banastre Tarleton Band and member of Oatmeal for the Foxhounds, deserves musical cheers for yet another reason: He puts his heart where his music is. Tarleton’s music therapy gig, the All You Need Is Love Tour (AYNILT), makes folks in hospitals smile and drowns worries rock ‘n’ roll style. Banastre and fellow Foxhound Dave McGowan perform in hospitals, nursing homes and retirement centers. The AYNILT mission: Love through music for children of all ages.

Kate Garland, a recreational therapist at Boone Hospital , says most of the people in her unit are older than 60. They are really happy when someone like Banastre plays for them,” she says. “It elevates their mood, gives them an occasion to socialize and breaks the routine of their lives.”

Jennifer Lineberry, a child life specialist at the University of Missouri Children ’s Hospital, believes in the therapeutic power of music. She says Banastre has played more than once for the children. “He is funny and involves the children completely,” Lineberry says.

            Banastre ’s first musical memory dates back to his early teens, when he first heard the opening chords of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” “I went mad,” he says.

            The madness launched a 30-year career. He describes his style as a musical history of rock, blues, and some Americana/country.

AYNILT came from Banastre ’s disenchantment with the bar scene in the mid 90’s. He felt that many people were there to get drunk or pick up somebody rather than hear music, so he chose a new audience: kids. A friend suggested he play at the children’s hospital, and All You Need Is Love was born.

McGowan shares his partner’s vision. “Music in all forms is great, but when it’s for people who are hurting, it’s even more meaningful,” he says.

One performance at MU Children’s Hospital was especially meaningful. When the show ended, the grandmother of a hospitalized child approached Banastre . Her son, Roger Partin, who died in a wreck, had played in the Banastre Tarleton Band. Her grandson burned his hands in the tragedy. Later, Banastre had a picture of Partin enlarged for the boy.

“Things like that give me enough of a reason to do this thing without questioning it,” Banastre says.

AYNILT is sponsored privately. Banastre sells T-shirts and CDs on his Web site for all his musical projects. Belinda and Chuck Davis help out with annual donations and gifts. “We’ve seen and understand firsthand the healing power of the music Banastre shares,” Belinda says. “We trust in Banastre ’s oversight as to how the funds are used. That’s what makes them a gift. No strings attached.”

Banastre landscapes and studies military history to de-stress in his spare time and is currently working on a new album. He admits he’s no authority on the medical benefits of music. “I know how it makes me feel, and I have seen what it does to other people,” he says. “I wasn’t even familiar with the term ‘music therapy’ when I started doing AYNILT. Then someone told me that’s what it’s called. I think it was my hair dresser.”

--Sona Bahadur