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LO resident walks with Hanson

Band raises money for needy in South Africa
by: Submitted Photo, From left, drummer Zac Hanson; Taylor Mumm, 22 of Lake Oswego; guitarist Isaac Hanson; and Kim Gray, 23 of Lake Oswego meet the band Hanson outside the Aladdin Theater on Sept. 7 before their concert.

On the afternoon of Sept. 7, 250 young people gathered outside the Aladdin Theater - singing, chanting - some holding signs as they walked one mile. But this wasn't a picket line. This was a celebration - the band Hanson was in town.

'Everyone say, 'I took the walk,'' lead singer Taylor Hanson yelled into a megaphone while walking down SE Milwaukie Avenue.

Portland marked the trio's 69th mile walked alongside fans in the effort to raise money for clean water, education, shoes, AIDS treatment and healthcare in South Africa.

The band, currently touring in support of their newest album, 'The Walk,' has embraced the concept of using their fans and influence to stage one-mile walks before each show.

Twenty-two year old Taylor Mumm of Lake Oswego attended the walk and concert because she likes Hanson and what they stand for.

'Every person that downloads their song 'Great Divide' on iTunes is helping someone in Africa with AIDS, often times with medication for pregnant mothers with HIV/AIDS,' Mumm said of the band's effort to help a prenatal HIV research unit in South Africa. 'I'm totally inspired by them.'

The brothers - singer/keyboardist Taylor, 25; guitarist Isaac Hanson, 27; and drummer Zac Hanson, 22 - also donate one dollar on behalf of each fan that walk this mile with them.

And Hanson walks without shoes.

'You build up a tolerance. It's not too bad,' Taylor said. 'The reason we walk barefoot is to feel the need of someone else.'

Hanson has teamed up with TOMS Shoes - a company that donates one pair of shoes for every pair that is purchased. With Hanson's help they have already donated 50,000 pairs of shoes in South Africa.

'You see that one dollar is making a difference, or one pair of shoes. We want to encourage you guys,' Taylor said into his megaphone on the Portland walk. 'We're going to walk around the world.'

The band hopes to have fans walk a total of 24,902 miles - the distance around the world - for which they will donate money.

Growing up Hanson

Hanson's 1997 song 'MMMBop' from their debut album Middle of Nowhere was one of the biggest debut singles of all time - reaching No. 1 in 27 countries and being nominated for two Grammy Awards. Since then, the band from Oklahoma has gone on to sell more than 15 million records.

Their music now reflects their life as twenty somethings, each married with children. Taylor Mumm, 22, of Lake Oswego who walked with Hanson in Portland, encourages people to listen to Hanson with fresh ears, overlooking their sugar pop sound from more than a decade ago.

'People need to look beyond the stigma and see that Hanson's music has evolved, their talent is phenomenal and they're using their influence to make the world a better place,' Mumm said. 'They are a truly talented rock band and they should be applauded.'

The 620 fans at Portland's sold-out show at the Aladdin clapped through the bands entire set. Portland director Gus Van Sant - who shot the band's music video for 'Weird' - was in attendance. Some attendees were in their teens. Some were in their 50s. Some mouthed every word. Everyone took pictures. And girls next to the stage cried while their boyfriends bobbed their heads to the music.

The band displayed both confidence and humility on stage. Before one song Isaac forgot the chords and turned to Zac for help.

'When you have 10 years of songs,' Isaac said, 'you forget stuff.'

'There's only four chords,' Zac said.

'I know, the trick is to know what the four chords are,' Isaac said.

And the crowd cooed.

Without overhead screens, pyrotechnics, or lights the show showcased the band through musicianship, harmonies and upbeat tunes.

'Going to a Hanson concert is like going home again,' said Jesica Clifton, 23, of Damascus. 'It's such a fun opportunity to see old friends, have a great time and listen to fantastic music.'

Hanson's upbeat rock anthem 'Great Divide' - partially recorded in Africa - revved the crowd as everyone sang the lyrics, 'Have no fear when the waters rise / we can conquer this great divide.'

Keep walking

Taylor said he encourages Hanson's Portland fans to host their own walk.

'We're encouraging people to visit TakeTheWalk.net and organize walks in their own town. Every person that walks is registered and we're donating one dollar for each person that walks,' Taylor said. 'We all need to realize that it's not just us, all alone.'

Isaac said their fans are 'people of action.'

In the fall, the band will release their book 'Take the Walk' with an EP, outlining their story with pictures and music inspired by their experience visiting Africa.

In the fall, the band will release their book 'Take the Walk' with an EP, outlining their story with pictures and music inspired by their experience visiting Africa.

Meagan Williams, 22, of Portland said that after more than five albums she still listens to Hanson because they have stayed 'true to their music' despite what mainstream radio spins.

'It seems they'd rather keep their intimate group of fans and do what they love,' Williams said. 'They don't just care about making money. They care about making their fans happy and using their fame to do something good. I wish more celebrities were like that.'

Mumm said she and her friends were glad they could support a cause - and band - they admire.

'It would be one thing if Hanson was just a really good rock band,' Mumm said. ' It's other thing to be a really good rock band whose trying to make the world a better place.'

So, what makes Hanson fans - like Mumm - unique?

'I just think we love each other,' Taylor said. 'We think they're great and they care about the music. We've always been doing what we believed in from the beginning.'

For more information about Hanson visit www.hanson.net. For more information about TOM'S Shoes, visit http://www.tomsshoes.com/.