Travis Swager loved making people laugh and music. After he died unexpectedly last year, his family created the "Make Noise! Music Fund" to help get instruments into the hands of local children. To give, visit gofund.me/7a0fc9fb online.
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CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 712-2221 or email@example.com
GIVING THE GIFT OF MUSIC FOR TRAVIS
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (JUNE 9, 2021) – Travis Swager was the kind of person who knew someone, no matter where he went.
Whether it was the grocery store or downtown Newport for a bite to eat, his mother Sarah and sister Beck Schlip said it was like riding with a celebrity.
So, when Travis passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 46 in 2020, Schlip said her family agreed they wanted to find a way to share his love of music that touched so many others through his life.
Toward that end, Schlip has been working hard getting the “Make Noise! Music Fund” up and running. She said the goal is to provide financial aid for local youngsters interested in music, but who are unable to pay for lessons and instrument rentals.
The Music Fund has a clothing drive all month to raise money for the cause. To schedule a pick-up of gently used clothing, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional details are available through the fund’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. Donations are also accepted at gofund.me/7a0fc9fb through the online site GoFundMe.
“I know he’d be proud, honored really, but he probably wouldn’t show it,” Schlip said chuckling from an Adirondack chair in the family’s front yard by Middletown High.
“He’d probably make some kind of sarcastic comment because he was always joking around, something like ‘Good job Peanut!’ or ‘Good job Pumpkin!’ That’s the thing we miss the most, his humor. He was so funny.”
A 1991 graduate from Middletown High, Schlip said Travis was a self-taught musician and loved playing guitar for anyone who’d listen. He was into Pearl Jam, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Tool, among others.
Schlip fondly remembers Travis walking around the house, strumming a few notes on his omnipresent guitar and then looking at her – or anyone else nearby – for the answer to the tidbit of the song he just played.
“He had this look on his face when he did it that just made you laugh,” Schlip said. “He just had that way with people and usually I didn’t guess the name of the song right.”
He also delved into the bass, banjo and drums, but guitar always took the lead. Schlip said her older brother inspired her to get involved with the bands and choruses at school, teaching herself flute, piccolo and trumpet.
Schlip said music helped both her and her brother through high school, finding new musicians who spoke to them with their words and songs. She graduated from Middletown High in 2000.
“They were always playing music around the house, loud, and it used to drive me crazy,” Sarah Swager said. “I’m not a big music person, but my kids sure were.”
Her brother worked at several local establishments from the restaurant at Howard Johnson’s to the Fourth Street Diner, One Pelham East and Franklin Spa, all in Newport.
No matter where he went, she said Travis was able to make friends and connect with those around him, whether they had anything in common or not. Music was usually the bond that brought everyone together.
“I saw the impact that music had on his life and know the same would be true for a lot of kids who just can’t afford it,” Schlip said. “That’s why we created the Make Noise! Music Fund, so that kids who want to play can and get something out of music like we did.”
To date, Schlip said everyone has been very supportive of the fund. And such assistance is more necessary than ever before coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When you hear about school budgets, one of the first things that gets cut is music and the arts, even though those are the only reason some students go to school every day,” Schlip said. “We want this to be one way for everyone to remember Travis and what a positive spirit he was.”