BRUNSWICK, Maine — A dozen back-to-back concerts by a dozen bands in a dozen Brunswick locations brought in more than $10,000 to fight hunger in the midcoast region.
In donated venues at a church, a bank, a hotel, the farmers market and several stores and restaurants, Maine musicians donated their time and talent to benefit the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. WCLZ radio program director and daytime host Ethan Minton, who is also a member of the hunger program’s board of directors, said the “Singing for their Supper” event brought awareness to the issue of hunger prevention in a new way that he hopes becomes a tradition.
“We decided needed to get in front of a new audience,” said Minton. “So we decided to do this play on busking.”
Busking is when a performer or group puts out a jar or a guitar case to collect money, sending the clear message that donations of any size would help. And the donations piled in.
“Look at that, it’s a check” said Portland-based musician Spencer Albee, looking into the guitar case in front of his band outside Bull Moose Music. “It looks big.”
Albee, known for his involvement in successful bands ranging from Rustic Overtones to As Fast As and others, said musicians in general are a charitable bunch.
“This is a good cause that so many musicians are part of,” he said. “All musicians in general do a lot of charity work whenever we can.”
The Pete Kilpatrick Band with Adam Gardner of Guster kicked off the event Friday night with a sold-out show at the Frontier Cafe with a crowd of about 250 people. Saturday’s free performances included Albee, String Tide, Jud Caswell, Anna Lombard, Gunther Brown, Jay Basiner, Amy Allen, Dominic and the Lucid, Eric Bettencourt, Sara Cox and Zach Jones.
Karen Parker, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program’s interim executive director, said the program is doing well compared to others in Maine because of strong support from the Brunswick region, but that the need for its services is rising. The program has served 36,000 lunches in the past year to residents in eight surrounding towns, which is an 11 percent increase over the previous year. Parker said many of the new faces are people between the ages of 18 and 25, which she said tells her the economy is affecting young people heavily. The program serves lunches five days a week and serves as a food pantry three days a week.
For the past four years, MCHP has partnered with WCLZ on an annual auction as one of its biggest fundraisers. When the program decided to launch the “Singing for Their Supper” event, corporate sponsors chipped in nearly $10,000.
MCHP volunteer and board member Claudia LaBella Adams of Brunswick was unloading bags and boxes of fresh produce and loaves of bread donated by vendors at the farmers market at Crystal Spring Farm Saturday. She said such generosity is common, but by no means less appreciated. And she said it means that hungry people will have fresh, local food to eat, which for some of them will come at the hour of their most desperate need.
“There are no buffet lines,” said Adams. “The founders of this organization felt the clients who we care for spend enough time in line, so we have waiters and waitresses to serve the meals. That says a lot about what kind of organization this is.”