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Posted on Fri, May. 02, 2008
Hanson hits the Strand
Band offers chance to take a walk for charity
By Kristi Singer
For The Sun News

Pop rock trio Hanson is back again. The "MmmBop" boys are now men - and they're on a mission.

With its fourth studio album, "The Walk," Hanson (Isaac, 27; Taylor, 25; and Zac Hanson, 22) went beyond an artistic effort. "The Walk," which debuted in the Top 5 on Billboard's Independent Chart, is part of the band's ongoing mission to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa, a commitment that began with a trip to Africa in 2006 to record their charity single, "Great Divide."

"That first trip was during the making of the record," Zac Hanson said during a phone interview last week from Massachusetts on a rare non-show day. "It's all developed after that. If you listen to the album, it all starts with a chant of a children's choir. They're chanting 'I have hope' in isiZulu [the native South African language], which is pretty awesome. They came up with that part without any prodding on our end."

Hanson will perform songs from "The Walk" at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach on Tuesday with indie rockers Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers and Kate Voegele, the first artist signed to MySpace Records.

Hanson fans can show their support by participating in the band's one-mile barefoot walks that take place before each concert. The exact location of each day's walk is announced on Hanson.net three hours in advance. Concertgoers who participate in the walk get to "jump the line" for that evening's show.

Hanson, along with thousands of supporters, walked 48 miles across North America on its fall 2007 tour. The goal was to help provide shoes to children in Africa. TOMS Shoes, founded by Blake Mycoskie, donates a pair of shoes to a child for each pair purchased. To date, TOMS has donated more than 58,000 pairs of shoes.

"Before every concert we walk a mile barefoot because we're talking about shoes," Zac Hanson said. "[And] simple things that people can do, like walking a mile, walking in someone else's condition, in someone else's lack of shoes. Your feet are probably going to hurt a little bit afterwards, you might stub your toe on something, or you might be too afraid to walk without shoes - and maybe that should mean something to you."

Hanson is launching its own custom TOMS Great Divide Shoe. With every pair of shoes purchased, a download card for the single "Great Divide" and a special acoustic recording is given to buyers. Proceeds from the download will help HIVSA, an HIV research hospital in Soweto, South Africa. Shoes can be purchased at www.toms shoes.com.

"I think it's a hard thing for people to swallow - someone in the public eye standing up for something like this," Zac Hanson said. "But for us it doesn't matter. It's about the people who join us on these walks."

"It's easy to be a cynic. It's a lot harder to actually do something. We have no misconceptions about the impact that we've been able to make is very small. But we understand that the way we're going to make a difference in this generation. The impact is going to be made by lots of people doing little things."

"The Walk" follows Hanson's 2004 debut release on its 3CG label, "Underneath," which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Independent chart, producing the hit single, "Penny and Me." The band's 1997 debut, "Middle of Nowhere," sold more than 4 million albums in the U.S., thanks to the chart-topping hit, "MmmBop."