Monday, March 8, 2010

Benefit Concert for the Families

On Saturday evening, March 6 2010, Arlington United for Justice with Peace presented a fundraising event for the Iraq Family Relief Fund. Billed as a coffeehouse, the event took place in a large hall in the Calvary United Methodist Church here in Arlington, MA where I live. We received donated urns of coffee plus trays of pastries from local bakeries. A technician from our local cable station handled the sound system, and our emcee for the evening is the community outreach coordinator for that station. So all in all it was a very homegrown affair.

Our featured performer was Ben Tousley, an exceptionally talented musician who has been writing and singing his own songs for quite some time. He was accompanied by two members of Woodwork, an ensemble of socially conscious acoustic musicians who have done a lot of performing at the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, MA.  The group is committed to helping out worthy progressive causes by donating their performances. Also on the bill was Chris Nauman, a member of Arlington United for Justice with Peace as well as a doctor. Lately, he's been giving more and more attention to his music and plans on cutting his first CD later this year. Chris was joined on stage by Ken Selcer, an excellent guitarist and another longtime peace activist.

We started the show with a virtuoso performance by Linda Schiffman. She had the audience spellbound with her world-class whistling. Yes, you read me correctly. Whistling! Linda took first place in the 2008 whistling competition held in Tokyo. For our coffeehouse, she performed an aria from Puccini's
Tosca, a few cabaret-style songs, and works by Vivaldi and Mozart.

About 75 people attended the coffeehouse which brought in about $800.00 in donations. Most of this money will go directly to my families in Baghdad, who continue to need support as they struggle with unemployment, inflation, poverty, and the ever-present threat of violence.

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