WEDDINGTON – Weddington residents CJ and Max aren’t typical middle school boys. Yes, they spend most of their free time on the baseball field and playing with their pet lizards and their Westie, Rosco, but they also have their own band and play classic rock music to raise money for veterans.
The brothers, known on stage as CJ and Brother Max, have been performing classic rock since May 2012. Last year, they raised over $4,000 for Patriot Charities to pay for a service dog, “Tiger,” which was presented to veteran Army gunner Angela Simpson at the Patriot Gala last November.
This year, the boys have even higher ambitions. Not only do they hope to raise enough money to pay for another service dog, but they also aspire to raise $10,000 to help Patriot Charities build a house for a veteran and $50 million for Global Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Foundation (GPTSIF), a nonprofit organization working to provide Stellate Ganglion Block injections to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI).
The boys’ father, Christopher Teas, said they’ve almost raised enough to cover the cost of another service dog, and they are in the process of planning a three-week, 10-city summer tour to benefit GPTSIF.
CJ and Max were drawn to helping veterans because they grew up in Middletown, New Jersey post 9/11.
“Middletown lost more lives than any town (during 9/11 and the subsequent Afghanistan and Iraqi War),” Christopher said.
“It was a huge deal in our community, growing up. Everyone was affected by it,” CJ said.
CJ and Max, who both attend Weddington Middle School, made a connection to a local organization that helps veterans, after their parents attended a benefit dinner, the Patriot Gala for Patriot Charities, a local fundraising arm of the Wounded Warrior Project, in 2013.
CJ and Max loved that Patriot Charities helped veterans by providing service dogs for those suffering from PTSI. They said helping raise money for them merged their love for music and dogs with their passion for helping veterans.
CJ and Brother Max played at Patriot Charities’ annual 5K run in May 2014. They ended up playing at 10 concerts last year and raised over $4,000 for Simpson’s service dog.
The brothers became more interested in helping veterans suffering with PTSI after they found out that veterans suffering from PTSI have a higher suicide rate.
“More soldiers die by suicide than killed in war,” CJ said. “If we can help the number of suicides go down that would have the greatest impact.
Beyond their charitable efforts, the brothers are happy to be able to do what they love. They’ve played guitar for almost six years, mostly self-taught.
Their love for guitar and classic rock started with Guitar Hero, a popular, guitar-simulation video game. One day while playing the game they bet their dad that if they reached expert level on a song by Cheap Trick then he would buy them real guitars.
They now own 12 guitars and practice one to two hours a night, as well as hold weekly band practices with their drummer Briggs Ackers of Waxhaw and bass/guitar player Aidan Nolen, who also attends Weddington Middle School.
CJ and Max also started writing their own songs. They took music theory lessons for six months from Charlotte resident Derick Hill of Carolina Guitars in 2013-14.
CJ and Brother Max will release their second original song, “Give Me a Shot,” this May.
“The song has a double meaning for veterans – give me a shot at something (an opportunity) and the Stellate Ganglion Block injection,” CJ said.
The brothers also plan to make “Give Me a Shot” available for download on iTunes in May. They said 100 percent of the sales for this song will go to GPTSIF.
“Their passion for music is tremendous and their dedication to veterans adds a whole another dimension,” Hill said.
CJ and Max play at many local events and venues. They’ve become regulars at Mac’s Speed Shop and Hickory Tavern. Their upcoming events include playing at Paws in the Park on April 18, a Saturday, at Pineville Lake Park in Pineville and Mac’s Speed Shop’s tenth anniversary Independent Benefit Run on May 2, a Saturday, at Mac’s Speed Shop on South Boulevard in Charlotte.
“These boys are making such an impact helping veterans and other organizations; we are happy to partner with them in giving back to the community,” David Jewell, co-owner of Mac’s Speed Shop, said.