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New concerts play ‘tunes for food’

WORKING TO SAVE OUR SONGS — Bob James (far left) started Tunes 4 Food to use music to raise money for food banks and Save Our Songs to teach students about the music industry. From left: James, Ray Steffan of Emerling, Miranda Digati, Matt Sobota, Shea Shelble, Colin Clayton, Bill Solak of Emerling, Allison McKenzie, Francis Schitchtel, Colin Engelhardt, Jamie Patterson, Vince Vanderlip and Delaney Peters of Emerling. Photo submitted by James.

SPRINGVILLE — Bob James is on a mission. The West Falls resident has been playing music for his entire life, since before he got a degree in social work, before he realized he could use music to make a difference in the world and in the lives of students. That’s where Save Our Songs comes in.

“What a lot of students don’t realize is that there are music careers out there, on the business side,” James explained. “There are opportunities in the music industry backstage for self-starters who want to get their boots on the ground.”

James started the Save Our Songs non-profit to “link professional mentors with students wanting careers in music,” according to The site notes that 95 percent of careers in music are backstage, and James started the organization to show students that not all music careers require a microphone and stage presence.

Save Our Songs conducts assemblies and workshops in high schools, to show students that music careers can be more than a pipe dream, and Springville-Griffith Institute has recently gotten in on the action.

“Through this program, kids are meeting people who are performing, who are supporting themselves through music,” James explained. “It gives us the opportunity to show students opportunities they don’t know about.”

James’ didn’t stop at teaching students about potential music careers.

“After 20-some years as a social worker, I wanted to do what I love. So I had to figure it out: How do I get involved in doing what I love?”

“I wanted to use music to make a difference,” he continued. “Music has a bigger cause than the commercial.”

That’s where Tunes for Food came in. After asking himself, “What would John Lennon do to help feed the needy?” James came up with the idea of a benefit CD, and “Tunes 4 Food: Redemption Day” was born. The CD, which features the likes of The Verbs, Heart, Yoko Ono, Melissa Etheridge, Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco and more, proceeds go to do just that.

In addition to CD proceeds, James and Tunes for Food host events to benefit local efforts, such as three local Saturday concerts, scheduled for April 26, May 3 and May 10, which will benefit the Trading Post Community Care Center and the Concord Food Pantry. Crosby’s will be donating pizza to be sold and Emerling is sponsoring the event. Bands will include Lee Ron Zydeco, Grace Blues, Stevie Fleck, Five to One and Allison MacKenzie, an S-GI student.

The concerts will include food, soft drinks, band merchandise, face painting and other activities and are volunteer-driven, according to James. Volunteers from S-GI, Emerling dealerships and the food pantries involved are working to get the event off the ground and food into local bellies.

Linette Crelly of the Trading Post said that she hopes people will come and donate, but noted that, while canned and dry goods are appreciated, monetary donations can go even further.

“For every dollar raised, we can get 7 pounds of food,” she said. “A meal is 1.2 pounds so really, a dollar is five meals.”

“People have this image of bringing cans of food to put in a bin,” James added. “But for a food bank that has relationships with stores and so forth, they can buy more than you or I could.”

The day before the first event, there will be a launch concert at S-GI to kick off the series. And after that, James said he hopes the Saturday shows will encourage residents to come out, have fun and fight hunger. He also encouraged music-minded people to come out and join in the fun.

“When you get a bunch of musicians together, you never know what can happen,” he said, with a laugh.

The first concert will take place on April 26 at 150 South Cascade Drive in Springville. The second will be at 9000 Boston-State Road in Boston and the last will be May 10 at 195 West Main St. in Springville. All events run 12-4 p.m.

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