The 23rd anniversary of this benefit for Access of West Michigan will rattle the rafters at Founders with regional rock faves. It’s all about a community of caring. Are you ready to join in? (Commentary)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sunday will mark the 23rd anniversary of the first Feedback benefit, with the mission and thrust of the event remaining the same: Aid the needy, celebrate regional music. Tune in to Local Spins on WYCE for a preview at 11 a.m. Friday (88.1 FM) when Feedback performers Conrad Shock & The Noise will be the special in-studio guests.
Poverty is rooted in our community.
Folks may try to ignore that or turn their heads when they see the homeless or the impoverished, but the health and well-being of the community at large depends on our acknowledgment of the problem and our assistance, aka “the kindness of strangers.”
“Many people would be surprised by the systemic nature of poverty. Poverty is not as much about individual choices as it is about the systemic and structural issues that put people in poverty and keep them there,” says Emma Garcia, co-executive director of Access of West Michigan, which cultivates solutions to poverty in Kent County.
“An example is that a person’s zip code determines his or her exposure to violence, quality of education, safe housing, lack of healthy food access and greenspace, and overall health outcomes. Poverty cannot be separated from the social determinants that we are subject to in childhood and that shape the rest of our lives.”
The evidence? One out of every five children in the Grand Rapids area don’t always know where their next meal will come from and more than 50,000 Kent County residents rely on a food pantry at some point.
DRAWING ATTENTION TO THE NEEDS, SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON LOCAL BANDS
Those sorts of sad and stunning stats drove the decision to launch the first Feedback benefit at the old Intersection in Eastown 23 years ago — an endeavor I helped spearhead with Charley Honey, my longtime pal and bandmate in The Honeytones. The idea was to raise money for Access and draw attention to the organization’s work while also shining a spotlight on some talented West Michigan bands.
With support from Local Spins, Founders Brewing and the Wheeler Foundation, we’ll do it all again on Sunday at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids with performances by rock bands The Legal Immigrants, Conrad Shock & The Noise and, of course, The Honeytones (who once again will emerge from their hibernation like chirping cicadas). Representatives from Access will be on hand to share their story.
Unfortunately, the mission remains because the needs in our community have grown over the past two decades. And with threatened federal budget cuts looming for many agencies battling poverty, it’s even more critical that we come together — as musicians, as artists, as communicators, as businesses, as nonprofits — to develop long-term solutions.
‘A POWERFUL SENSE OF COMMUNITY’ AND ROUSINIG ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
“Federal budget cuts would mean greater reliance on the non-profit sector to supply both basic needs and long-term programming, creating an increased demand for private dollars to fund these services,” notes Garcia from Access, which helps coordinate food pantries, runs anti-poverty programs, connects the needy with services and sponsors May’s Hunger Walk. (Donate online here.)
“It’s time to convene the community around opportunities that effectively address the root causes of poverty through economic justice, health equity and community-driven solutions.”
So, it’s only apropos that Feedback revolves around music and the region’s community of musicians. I know of no other community that’s more willing to donate time and talent to worthy causes than West Michigan musicians — armies of bands and solo artists who’ve leaped to participate in Feedback and countless other benefits without hesitation.
Feedback, which has raised more than $30,000 over the years, revels in that giving spirit (as you can see from the video and photos below).
As Charley puts it, “It produces a powerful sense of community as people gather to enjoy great music while helping out others going through hard times. I always come away from Feedback with a wonderful feeling of joy.”
On Sunday, you can experience that joy, too. Join us.
VIDEO: Feedback 2016 (April 10, 2016)
Video by David Specht
PHOTO GALLERY: FEEDBACK 2016
Photos by Anthony Norkus and Derek Ketchum
More coverage of past Feedback events online here.
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC