Audience interaction is the best way to see the power of connection at every Bread & Roses show. Our volunteer hosts report on the impact that our program has on the audiences we serve. Here are excerpts from a few recent shows that beautifully illustrate the healing power that live music has for those who are isolated and need uplifting.
Recovery Through Music
Volunteer Dick Miner recently hosted The Last Call Troubadours: Barry Blum (vocal, guitar, synthesizer) and Tom Holmes (vocal, guitar, harmonica) at Center Point in San Rafael, a drug and alcohol recovery center for men. Their very engaging show was full of strong originals like On the Run and familiar cover tunes like James Brown‘s I Feel Good. Dick relayed what happened when an audience member asked to join them.
“Toward the end of the evening, the audience spoke about Sasha, a member of the Center Point family, who is a very good guitarist. They asked if he could sit in with the band. Tom lent his guitar to this young man, who announced that he would like to play Rock Me Mama, an Old Crow Medicine Show tune. This surprise guest was fabulous and the audience was on their feet asking for more.
Sasha then played two of his original compositions, both having to do with life’s misfortunes and his ongoing struggle with recovery. He spoke about how his addiction to alcohol has kept him from playing the music he loves so much. Clearly, his three songs with the Last Call Troubadours meant a lot to him and also to his friends at Center Point.
Barry and Tom provided a kind of magic through the chemistry of their music that was amazing to experience and difficult to adequately describe. I felt privileged to have been a part of the evening. This was one of those uncommon performances when the artists and audience had an impact on each other. I believe that everyone found a kind of emotional release that can only be found in the unique environment that a facility like Center Point provides."
The Gift of Dance
“Barefoot and armed with a ukulele, Charity wore a t-shirt with the letters “L-O-V-E” across her chest in greeting the children, ages 3-5. A polished performer and seasoned teacher, she clearly connected with the youngsters from the opening of her show. “Good morning to you!” she sang in a sweet and welcoming voice, as the kids followed her instructions to join in full chorus.
With a kind and expressive face, Charity then urged the youngsters and staff to “Get up on those dancing feet!,” Charity offers such a kid-friendly program, chock full of opportunities for the audience to have fun with physical response. She literally took the children on a journey. First on a boat down a river, as the kids followed her lead in putting their hands together and making like a snake with their arms. Then they sang in unison, “We need mud, mud, mud!” What kid wouldn’t like that line, I thought.
She closed by sharing some simple but poignant messages—“love and friendship”—and told the children “It’s so good for you to dance. Feel your heart. Don’t you feel good? You just gave yourself a gift.” The same could be said for the gift Charity gave them. She left the facility knowing that, for at least one morning, she had made the world a better place.”
Connection Through Music
Volunteer hosts Arthur Javier and Toni Pellegrini recently reported on the effect that the jazz trio of Connie Ducey (on vocals), Judy Hall (on piano) and Steve Webber (on stand-up bass) had upon the audience at Whistlestop in San Rafael.
Arthur said “Hearing them threw me back to the night clubs of the 60s and 70s in San Francisco where the jazz greats performed. This trio has a special synergy that ignites when they play. Connie has a style reminiscent of a classy yet sexy jazz vocalist. She is expressive and has that ’voice’. Both Judy and Steve bring their specialty into the mix with Judy’s magical touch on the piano and seasoned musician Steve playing the stand up amplified base like his own jewel, emphasizing every beat as he pulls each string. They started with one of Irving Berlin’s famous songs Cheek to Cheek. The audience loved it and applauded with gusto after every song.”
Tony noted of the same concert “What could be better than a nutritious meal accompanied by uplifting music by a trio of excellent musicians? The selection of show tunes done in a unique, jazzy way was captivating. Connie was a joy to listen to with a beautiful voice and great modulation, the pianist, Judy, was exceptional, and who doesn’t love a stand-up bass which included wonderful solos by Steve Webber? What a joy this fabulous trio was.
Soon, several people were dancing, including the one child in attendance. There was enthusiastic applause after each number, and especially at the end. The show ended with lots of hugs and smiles as people broke into conversational groups. Clearly the music encouraged this camaraderie.”
New volunteer hosts are needed at Bread & Roses shows throughout the Bay Area. To apply, click here. Performers are also needed for a wide range of audience types. To fill out an online performer application, click here. To experience the power of connection at a Bread & Roses show, join the Backstage 365 Club today. Click here for more info.
Audience at Friends of St. Francis Children's Center in SF for concert by Charity Kahn, 2009. Photo by Peter Merts