Longtime Hoosier pop songwriter Jon McLaughin spent much of the last two years in a slowwww move down to Nashville with his wife and two daughters. There, he'll continue writing for himself and other artists.
But he's pleased as punch to come back to his old stomping grounds in Indy this weekend for the last stop on his national tour — and he'll definitely grab a bite of Petite Chou, which he says he and his wife are full-on addicted to. When I caught up with John before his tour date here, we had fun chatting about all the delicious things he would eat when he came back to Indy. But our conversation was overall much more serious, as I inquired about the organization to which he's contributing proceeds from his 2015 album tour. Turns out it was one of those long drives down to Nashville when Jon heard a story of such impact that he had to find a way to lend his voice and efforts. And so: Proceeds from this tour's album sales of Like Us, which dropped in October, benefit a project through World Vision to build safe houses for kids in Bangladesh to help them escape human trafficking.
Here's the story, in Jon's words.
"When I discovered [Alec Baldwin's podcast Here's The Thing] probably two years ago it was great because he had 20 or 30 that I could listen to already, when I was going back and forth from Indianapolis to Nashville. I would listen to his podcast all the time. He's got this one with Rob Morris who started Love 146, which is an [anti] human trafficking — specifically kids in sex trafficking — [organization]. I was listening to it on my way home to Indy. We had just had Luca [his daughter], so I think that affected it a little bit. It's mind-blowing to anyone, I'm sure, but being a new dad and listening to this interview with this guy who started this organization. He's telling stories of being over in Southeast Asia, going undercover, going into these brothels — it just leveled me. I just could not believe what I was hearing.
"I came home and told Amy [his wife] about this interview and was like, 'You've got to [listen].' It was one of those moments where you've just got do something. And it took a couple of years of sort of kicking that around in my head, and having conversations here and there, and not exactly knowing what to do. And then this summer I was having coffee with a friend of mine who works for World Vision in Nashville. We had finished the record, the tour was on sale. I told him, 'We're getting ready to go out on this tour, we've got the new record coming up, let's try to do something with this new record.' Basically, I just said, I'll give you all the profits from the new record on the tour, and you tell me what we're going to do with it so I can tell people every night on stage what their money is going to go toward. And so that's sort of how this project started. ...
"Being up on stage, playing live shows through the years, you get a little more comfortable with [speaking up about social causes]. Maybe 10 years ago, it felt like I got up on stage and I put on a show and I sort of was a different person [onstage]. Now it just feels like an extension of my personality, an extension of my life. If you go to one of my shows, there's no pyro, there's no persona. It's just me up on stage playing my songs and talking, telling a couple of stories about my kid, my [life]. It sort of just feels like as a person I wanted to do something, and I of course used whatever assets I had, just like anybody would. Just like you use the platform that you have for things that you feel called to do.
"It's great because people want to get behind it. I think people want to do something. Like I said, there was a couple of years where I didn't hear that interview with Rob Morris and immediately run out and do something. I think the hardest step was that first one, just figuring out what can you do. I think that when you get up on stage and you tell people, 'Hey, this is something that we're doing that you can be a part of. If you give them an opportunity, people really come out of the woodwork, so to speak, and really get behind it. It's such a good feeling. Such a good feeling about humanity as whole, which is sort of ironic because you're fighting against probably the darkest corner of humanity."