Write Love on Your Arm
You walk onto a bridge, feeling the noise around you slow and then stop as if someone pushed mute, followed by a moment of sheer noise as the crowd’s anticipation swells. Now, imagine that only your brothers, your passion and your ax keep you from running away and cowering in a corner. This collective strength is what the members of the Durgas needed as they literally bridged the gap between two sides of a civil war for the UN Reconciliation Concert in Kosovo. On the bridge of Mitrovica the band members played for thousands of Albanian? Bosnian? and Serbian people. The band members encouraged people to sing and dance with those they had previously called enemies. Children were free to dance with other children regardless of what their families had done or where they stood politically.
Spreading worldwide peace, love and unity through music is the goal of brothers Patrick, Christopher, and Benji Simmersbach. The band also includes the musical talents of Reiner Baumgartner and Alex Czerny. Benji, the lead singer, purposefully draws attention to the tattooed Arabic image of love, peace and hope that runs the length of his forearm during some performances. He explains that it was his “personal statement when Israel invaded Lebanon”. During an interview, the brothers told a story of an Arabian man who was asked to remove his t-shirt in an American airport, because it was written in Arabic and the Americans believed that it could possibly be terrorist writing. It was later discovered that the shirt spread a message of peace rather than terrorism. Benji says that the tattoo is “his message of peace that can never be taken off”.
All over the world, the band has helped to raise money for peace organizations, to educated adults and children about a world with peace, and to spread peace through song. They annually performed for students all over the Hawaiian Islands and performed for a benefit concert with Kanu O Ka’Aina New Century Public Charter School. In Thailand, they helped raise money for the XV International AIDS Conference. A tour through Europe collected money and spread knowledge to help save the lives of children in desperate need. The band later took part in Music Workshops at Pestalozzi Kinder in Germany. Even the US mainland has benefited from the Durgas’ work during the Eyes Wide Open educational concert in San Francisco.
The band has been heavily involved in work with the Burmese people. In 2008, they performed a benefit concert for Burmese refugees and schools in Budapest and Hungary. The band wanted the Burmese children and their parents to feel hope through music. Their second album was a tribute to the people of Burma, appropriately titled “Burma”. They dedicated a song from this album to the people of the US Campaign for Burma, who fight for human rights in Burma.
The Durgas spread peace with them at every show they undertake. Trying to change a world ravaged by war, famine, poverty, disease and corruption seems impossible. Truly making a difference in the world is unimaginably difficult, but the Durgas have proven that if you have the will power it is possible, especially when you have love permanently inscribed across your arm.