MUSICIANS JAM FOR CAUSE
by Kirby Lindsay
When Michael Stegner made plans to celebrate his birthday this year, he turned loose his creativity and ambition for good. He organized a fundraiser, a “musical extravaganza” he called it, for First Place School (www.firstplaceschool.org). On Saturday, September 12 from 6:30 p.m. – 2 a.m., musicians – many, many musicians – will play at Töst Lounge (at 513 North 36th Street.)
On The Stage
Stegner will perform at the show, on keyboards, but he roundly sings praises for the diverse line-up of performers he’s gathered. The evening starts with a jazz trio led by Steve Treseler, whom Stegner called a “monster talented saxophone player.” At 7:30 p.m. is Goat, another jazz band that Stegner described as “top tier improvisers.” They are followed by singer/songwriter guitarist Colin Higgins, the Senegalese drumming group, Yeke Yeke, and finally another trio featuring Andy Sells, Forrest Giberson and Stegner.
At 10:50 p.m. the Michael Shrieve Group will perform. Stegner admitted he never really followed Classic Rock and didn’t know of Shrieve before they met, “but we have so many common influences and interests.” Stegner also explained, “as musicians, we don’t think so much about styles. We play everything,” he said, “this show reflects that mentality.” Rather restricting the show to a particular genre or classification of music, for his birthday Stegner will play with his friends.
The last act features the “very versatile” Byron Vannoy, Hans Teuber (“he’s just a guru,”) Thione Diop, about whom Stegner said, “the first time I heard his group, my jaw was on the floor,” and the birthday boy. “The last band will morph into a jam session,” Stegner suggested, with opportunities for the musicians to experiment – and audience members to dance. “It’s all going to be honest,” Stegner insisted of the performances, “it’s something they can all deliver at the highest level.”
Behind The Scene
Ultimately though, this event provides a fundraiser for First Place School, an innovative education program for homeless children, and their families. Teachers educate while case workers help families find the shelter, work and rehabilitation or reunification programs necessary to help the children succeed.
“I started a music school out of my home,” Stegner said of his Creative Music Adventures (www.creativemusicadventures.com) in Wallingford. Teaching cemented his desire to see music education made available to all children, rather than a luxury among upper income families. “It is really sad, a lot of our musical innovators have come from difficult backgrounds,” and he wants to restore that access.
“Last year I saw that First Place was hiring a music teacher,” he explained. He has followed the school from a far, and always promised himself that ‘someday’ when he became a rich musician he’d help them out. For his birthday he decided to make that dream come true, today, with the help of friends and of his music.
Donations to First Place are always welcome, or attend the show at Töst on September 12. With the musicians donating their time, “all donations go straight to First Place,” Stegner said, “if people want to give more than $15, that would be great!”
This event is for those over 21 years of age.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.