Musical Friends Get Together To Help Family
"I'm glad my schedule has me available to do the date," said the keyboard player, who leads his own band and has played with Paul Simon, Miles Davis and Annie Lennox
Family of Woodstock welcomes lovers of blues, soul and American roots music to celebrate those genres along with spring tonight at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock.
"We're hoping for hundreds of people to come, said Victoria Read, head organizer for the event that will benefit the general fund of Family, a charity that provides a wide variety of social services in Ulster County.
"It's a great lineup. It should be a great concert."
Performers, of national and international renown, include Joe Louis Walker, The Organiks, the Alexis P. Suter Band and Pete Levin.
"They're donating their time and services graciously," said Read, a staff member of Family, "and they're doing it because they support what Family does."
In fact, they are a family of sorts.
Most have played together in the past, including The Organiks' band member Bruce Katz, nominee for this year's "Piano Player of the Year" Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation; and high-profile blues artist Joe Louis Walker, winner of multiple Grammys, as well as the prestigious WC Handy Award.
Walker, a Poughkeepsie and San Francisco resident who is back two years from an equal-length stay in France, said he is ready to have some fun, keep it a "little loose" and play old favorites, as well as some songs from his latest album, "Playin' Dirty."
Like the other performers, Walker said giving time to an organization like Family comes natural. He likened it to the activist era of his younger years, which included everything from free food to the Black Panthers, an organization known for its fight against the oppression of blacks.
"I think the only way we can get something done is to do it ourselves, by participating and by helping each other, because it's all the same thing. It's the human struggle, and we all have the human struggle. We can't depend on the politicians. Oh, boy," he said, first halting then laughing.
"Rather than discuss that, I'll just say that the way things have gotten done is when people have gotten together one person at a time. ... I'm just one person, but, hopefully, I can bring some more people's awareness to the cause."
Walker, who has recorded with big-name talent like B.B. King, James Cotton, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Huey Lewis, Branford Marsalis, Ike Turner and others, also gives of his time in a program called "Blues in the Schools."
"It may open some young person's eyes," he said, "and open some young person's ears. You don't have to give money all the time. It doesn't have to be something grandiose."
Walker's friend Katz, on Hammond B-3 organ, will be joined by the rest of The Organiks - drummer and vocalist Randy Ciarlante, saxophonist and vocalist Jay Collins and guitarist and vocalist Chris Vitarello.
Katz, a West Shokan resident, who is also Read's husband, said Family provides not just one type of assistance, but comprehensive services that include shelters, emergency pantries, court advocates, case management, hotlines and childcare.
"I'm always in favor of trying to support groups who are doing good. I will give my time to those," he said. "I just think (Family) is one of those great organizations that sort of goes from month to month for funding, so it's nice to support them."
His wife said Family, unlike government agencies, relies upon grants, donations and fundraisers like tonight's musical celebration of spring to keep going.
Vicki Bell, a backup singer in the Alexis P. Suter Band, said the seven-piece group is based in Brooklyn, but members have a great affinity for Woodstock. During the past three years, the band has opened for most of the "Midnight Ramble" shows hosted at the home of Grammy-winning drummer Levon Helm, who lives in the community.
Katz plays piano and organ with the group, named after its powerhouse soul singer, whenever he can, she said. In the process, Bell has gotten to know Read as well.
"She talks so much about her work and what a wonderful thing Family of Woodstock is," Bell said. "We care about Woodstock. We've grown to love it up there."
She and other band members will bring to the benefit their original and eclectic take on blues and soul music.
"If it helps bring some money to the cause, that's beautiful," Bell said. "That's what we want."
As for Levin, a Saugerties resident, like the others, his donation of time was an easy decision.
"I'm glad my schedule has me available to do the date," said the keyboard player, who leads his own band and has played with Paul Simon, Miles Davis and Annie Lennox, among others. His latest album, released last year, is "Deacon Blues."
"I'll be sitting in with Bruce's band. With dual organs, it'll be kind of unique and definitely a lot of fun," Levin said, "Bruce and I have been talking about doing this for a couple of years. I'd like to tell you that we'll be totally rehearsed, but, in reality, we'll be playin' the blues and having a good time."
Read said last summer's concert was "unbelievably hot," not to mention its fateful scheduling during the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck. Attendance was not up to par, but she is hoping the turn of the vernal equinox will not only bring spring but a burgeoning crowd.
What seems most certain is soulful, bluesy music and a good time.
"We all have a connection with each other," Katz said, "so I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
IF YOU GO
WHO: Joe Louis Walker, The Organiks, Alexis P. Suter Band, Pete Levin and surprise guests
WHAT: Fundraiser for Family of Woodstock
WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight
WHERE: Bearsville Theater, Route 212, Bearsville
HOW MUCH: $25
CALL: (845) 331-7080
Article Link: http://www.dailyfreeman.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19411478&BRD=1769&PAG=461&dept_id=81976&rfi=6
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An expansive Hammond B-3 Manifesto