MIAMI, Okla. —
The First Baptist Church of North Miami Food Pantry has a walk-in freezer. It just can't be used. Yet.
While the pantry was able to buy a walk-in freezer, installing it is another project -- one that director Donna Lawrence estimates will cost around $3,000. When fully installed, the freezer will replace several smaller, power-draining units that the pantry uses.
"We're dependent on the church for a stipend," Lawrence said. "Because we're using so many freezers, we're using a lot of electricity from the church."
Volunteer Joe Bourgeois saw the need firsthand and did the only thing he knew to do: Produce and promote a fundraising concert.
"One day (Lawrence) was talking about some of our needs," Bourgeois said. "I was sitting there thinking and seeing dollar signs. And the only way I know to raise dollars is to do a show."
In what is hoped to be a repeating effort, the inaugural Hunger Aid benefit will feature a night of live music, an auction and giveaways. The concert features Joplin band Last Chance Casanova and also includes Geek Theory, Social Sinners, Of Course Not and Rhatigan Brothers.
Funds raised will go toward the pantry's efforts to install the new freezer and will assist with other pantry operations. The freezer will help the pantry keep more of the food it receives for families.
Currently, the pantry donates extra food that doesn't fit in other freezers to other pantries in order to prevent spoilage and ensure a chance for the food to get into the hands of people who need it.
The pantry serves about 100 families a month, Lawrence said.
Organizers hope this is the first of many Hunger Aid concerts. Bourgeois, vice president of Southside Johnny Productions, said other concerts could benefit other area pantries.
Another chance for Last Chance
Alex Fuhr, lead singer and guitarist for Last Chance Casanova, said they quickly agreed to play the show because band members enjoy playing benefit shows.
"We're always doing benefits," Fuhr said. "We did a show at DAV for Veteran's Day and have done a couple at Solace to help with people's medical bills."
That handful of shows is just fine for band members, who did a long set of nationwide tour dates in 2012 before the band's van broke down, effectively canceling a few dates at the end of the tour. It had also signed with Criminal Records, a subsidiary of Capitol Records, but the label didn't follow through on promises of recording two albums.
"We hit a brick wall," Fuhr said.
The band is in songwriting mode. Fuhr, bassist Jad Rahmeh and drummer Nate Robusto are squeezing in studio time when they can to record a five-song EP at Studio 2100 in Springfield.
The band expects the album, filled with its alternative rock sound, to be available by summer. Before that, however, the band will get on the road again -- it landed a spot in Austin's Red Gorilla Music Fest, an event happening alongside the respected SXSW Music Festival. One of the band's songs will be featured on a compilation disc offered by festival promoters.
Fuhr said it's good to feel forward momentum again.
"At Red Gorilla, we'll be in front of industry reps, and we'll be on a compilation CD passed out to all the people looking to sign bands," Fuhr said. "It's pretty tough to get on that showcase, but we managed it. It's an opportunity to get us out there."
Want to go?
The inaugural Hunger Aid benefit concert will be held from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday at Quapaw Casino in Miami. The event includes giveaways and a silent auction.