By day, the construction experts at Chicago-based Leopardo Companies, Inc. are hard at work building 400 projects annually, but by night 10–14 employees—along with workers from related businesses—trade in their tool belts and planning software for guitars, drums, and a soundboard. The musicians get together under the band name Liquidated Damages to rock out, raise money, and support charity through local concerts in Chicago. American Builders Quarterly was able to sit with Leopardo coworkers and bandmates Rick DuPraw, senior vice president, and Dan Ulbricht, vice president, to learn more about the after-hours fun.
How did Liquidated Damages get started?
Rick Dupraw: I’m a drummer, Dan sings and plays guitar, and we had some other musicians in the company back in 1999, and we thought it’d be a good idea to play some company functions. We did that, but then I had the opportunity to join the board for the City of Hope Hospital. They had an event once a year at the House of Blues; they used to hire professional artists, and they paid these bands good money. Whatever was left would go to the hospital—maybe $50,000 after expenses. I made a suggestion to the committee chair that we could raise more money by using the donated services of industry bands. In 2007, we crossed the $300,000 mark for money raised in one night.
Dan Ulbricht: From that event, we’ve been asked to play other events. The band has unanimously agreed to never charge for our services, and we only play for charity. In 2013, we’re doing 11 shows, all for charity.
What are some causes you’re currently supporting?
DU: The Beacon Bash, which is for Beacon Therapeutics, and the program supports homeless children. That one raises up to $50,000 in a given year. Another one is Memory Rock, which is to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. We’ve been playing at the John Buck Spring Fling for the past few years, and that raises money for a different charity every year, and we’ve been the sole band for that event. About 2,500 people attend that event. We do an event for the USO called Clark After Dark, and this will be our third year doing that.
RD: This is our way to give back, have some fun, and do some good. Also, our employees, subcontractors, and friends in the industry seem to enjoy it as much as we do. It’s rewarding all around.
And of course, the most important question: what do you guys play?
DU: Every year in December, we have a day called Selection Tuesday. Everyone brings three songs they’d like to see on the set list, and we vote democratically on what songs make the list. The youngest person is 25 and the oldest is 64—you can imagine the diversity of the selection.
RD: Every year we reinvent ourselves. We can go from Cash to Clash, Marvin Gaye to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith to Gotye, Adele, Jane’s Addiction, Elvis Presley. That’s the fun part. In any given set, we can have six different singers.
What have been some of the highlights for Liquidated Damages over the years?
RD: Along the way, we’ve met and jammed with some unbelievable musicians and stars. We’ve been fortunate to perform with Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick, Jim Peterik from Ides of March and Survivor, and Russ Irwin from Aerosmith. We have also opened for America—these people who have seen us and know the causes we’re supporting are happy to jump up on stage with us and give their support for what we’re doing.