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October 9, 2007

Hanson makes a difference one mile, note at a time

HansonFriday, Oct. 12Coyote’s116 W Jefferson St.589-3866$25; 6 p.m.At a time when other performers from the late ’90s are making appearances on reality TV, melting down in public or canceling shows due to wicked hangovers, the Hanson boys are hitting the road to support their fourth studio album, The Walk, to help promote a cause and help spur action. No longer youngsters, brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac are all married, some with children, one with multiple children. They’re looking back on 10 years since “MMMBop,” and they’re still moving forward. Since splitting with their record company and forming their own label in 2003, Hanson has released two studio albums, allowing their vision for their music — not someone else’s — to show for itself. Their latest offering, The Walk, co-produced by Danny Kortchmar, brings Hanson back to their roots and their influences. “Our goal with this record was to take a different approach. Our goal is to build a powerful growing message about who we are and what we do,” middle brother Taylor Hanson said in a recent interview with LEO. The message and story of the album was also shaped by a trip the band took to Africa with a group from their hometown of Tulsa, Okla. At an orphanage in Mozambique, the band recorded a children’s choir whose message of hope can be heard in the song “Great Divide.” The song was later released as an iTunes download, with all proceeds going to the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa.The trip to Africa also inspired Hanson to encourage action. They realized that “it’s not about raising a bunch of money,” Taylor said. “It’s about taking what you have and putting it to use. That was the power of giving something away that we saw. We need to move toward action, tangible action. Not just philanthropy, but actually saying we’re working on it and we all have something we can use.”  Out of this idea and goal came a partnership with TOMS Shoes, a Midwestern company that’s trying to make a difference in poverty-stricken regions by supplying children with shoes. For each pair of TOMS bought, another pair is donated to a child in need. The shoes can be purchased after the walk or at the concert Friday night at Coyote’s. Hanson will accompany TOMS Shoes in November to deliver the shoes to villages in South Africa with a goal of bringing in 50,000 pairs. As part of this awareness campaign, Hanson stages 1-mile walks in every city on their tour. “We encourage people to do it barefoot as a way to see what it’s like not to have a pair of shoes,” Taylor said. It’s a way to show people that even one small action like buying and donating a pair of shoes can help make a difference. The Louisville walk is tentatively scheduled at 3 p.m. on Friday, as Hanson leads the way from Coyote’s. Hanson’s passion for their music will be evident that night as well when they take the stage for a sure-to-be electrifying performance. Perhaps the secret to their success is that they share that passion with the audience, and it shows. “If you come to a Hanson show, it’s not a passive show. We do not leave you sitting still,” Taylor said. Consider yourself warned. Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.com