Steve Holtzman knows the power of music firsthand.
He’s watched his daughter, Julia, blossom from a “shy, retiring girl” to the lead singer in the house band at School of Rock in Cherry Hill, which teaches stagecraft and musicianship to young people.
Holtzman believes music can have a similar impact on military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“If this is what could happen for a child,” he said of his 12-year-old daughter, “what could happen for an adult who might be feeling down or isolated?”
Working with Lou Faiola, owner of the Cherry Hill School of Rock, Holtzman is producing a Web-based reality show called Bands of Brothers.
The premise: Twelve musically inclined veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan form three rock bands and prepare for a big concert on Veterans Day.
Holtzman and Faiola are casting through the end of August, and the show is open to veterans living in the greater Delaware Valley.
Although suffering from PTSD isn’t a requirement to be on the show, Holtzman said nearly every person he’s auditioned has either been affected by the disorder or knows someone who has.
Up to 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from the disorder, according the National Center for PTSD.
All proceeds from corporate sponsorships, individual donations and ticket sales from Bands of Brothers concerts will benefit Give an Hour, a nonprofit based in Bethesda, MD. that provides free counseling and other mental-health services to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families.
“We’re not really looking for professional musicians, necessarily,” Holtzman, 47, said of the show. “My criteria is if you can play for your wife or husband or boyfriend or girlfriend and they don’t kick you out of the room, you’re perfect for us.”
Holtzman, a reality TV show producer and Cherry Hill resident, currently works on the Jerseylicious spinoff Glam Fairy on the Style Network. He said broadcasting Bands of Brothers on the web frees the show from the typical requirements of network reality television.
“The drama will be all about the music,” he said. “It’s not a competition in terms of, nobody gets voted off the island.”
But, he said, the inherent drama will be in watching a bunch of musicians who’ve never played together quickly try to form cohesive units.
The first of 10 weekly episodes of Bands of Brothers is set to air Sept. 13 on the show’s website. The season will culminate with a benefit concert at World Café Live in Philadelphia on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Holtzman and Faiola are already discussing a second season.
“I don’t think this is something we can just do once and stop,” Holtzman said. “Being part of a band that can come together and make music can be a life-changing experience. We are very hopeful that we will see these changes in some of these veterans, and that in turn will inspire other veterans.”