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Bread & Roses Blog

News and information from Bread & Roses, a non-profit organization that presents live music to bring hope, healing and joy to the community.

The Bread & Roses Staff love to share and know that people like to hear the stories of upliftment and encouragement through music. Feel free to share blog posts on social media, comment on them and rate posts. That helps!

Brotherhood for Bread & Roses: The Legendary Mighty O’Town Passions at Crossroads in Oakland

As the name implies, The Legendary Mighty O’Town Passions are a musical force to be reckoned with. More than a performing group, they are a musical ministry for good. They take their uplifting songs to the streets, to the stage and to the shelters – as they did for Bread & Roses Presents on February 16, 2017.

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The residents at Crossroads East Oakland Community Project, a homeless shelter for diverse adults, slowly filled the room as the group started singing. They were weary from their day and might have preferred to go to sleep rather than to a mandatory Life Skills meeting. They were quite pleasantly surprised to see four dapperly dressed gentlemen and to hear some great old school and new tunes.

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“Pass the Music” Events Help Launch New Backstage 365 Club

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Bread & Roses board member Alex Wellins recently sponsored the first "Pass the Music" lunchtime event at The Blueshirt Group in San Francisco. The idea was born while brainstorming at a January board planning session as a way of cultivating the younger high tech workforce to learn about our mission and to become involved in supporting our organization. We are grateful that Alex came up with the concept and offered to host the first event at his impressive office in downtown San Francisco.

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The Shows: Our Reason For Being

Every day of the year isolated audiences in the Bay Area enjoy the superb, live entertainment that our volunteer performers provide. Our small, dedicated staff expertly matches performers with the right audiences and brings in new artists to enhance our roster. The facilities we serve have only praise for the shows we bring.

As the needs of the community grow, we continue to explore new audiences who thrive on the joy and connection we bring. Recently we added several new facilities to stretch our demographic reach: the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland, Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco, St. Vincent’s Dining Room in San Rafael and the Hanna Boys Center in Glen Ellen. From time to time we help our facility partners with music for special events such as the “National Salute to Our Veterans” day at the San Francisco Veterans Hospital and the annual “Day of Peace” at San Quentin.

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Thank You For A Cornucopia of Shows in 2015

Thanks to all our supporters who help us present a cornucopia of Bread & Roses shows every year. It takes a tribe to fulfill our mission and we are especially grateful to our volunteer performers and hosts, the backbone of our organization.

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What does a typical day of shows look like for Bread & Roses Presents? You might see 15-year-old Caroline Sky singing at a home for the developmentally disabled, Dirty Cello bringing rock and blues to adults in an addiction treatment facility, 70-year-old Si Perkoff playing boogie-woogie jazz piano in a convalescent home, The Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir singing gospel tunes to homeless families, Boswick the Clown performing for children, whose main languages are Spanish or Vietnamese, in a low-income daycare program, Aaron Kierbel leading a percussion workshop in a special needs school or Ian Dogole helping teens in rehab play instruments from around the world.

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Bread & Roses Serves LGBT Senior Community at San Francisco's Openhouse

San Francisco is known throughout the world as a place where lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people can live openly. It has become a mecca for those with alternative lifestyles to find an accepting home. This population often becomes isolated as the next, younger generation of people move into the city.

Openhouse is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that provides housing, direct services and community programs for LGBT seniors living in the Bay Area. They have regular gatherings of the community where these seniors and their caregivers can socialize, network and support each other.

David-Facer-ParadoxBread & Roses has been providing Openhouse with free, live entertainment since 2011. Various facilities allow the group to come together for meals and a fun afternoon. This partnership has allowed hundreds of LGBT seniors to enjoy performers like Phillip Percy Williams, Paradox MagicLinwood Project Community Chorus, The Mad Maggies, Garden Party, Magic Jeanne and more. 

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New Board Members Revitalize Bread & Roses

We are happy to announce that three new members are joining the Bread & Roses board of directors: Greg Beattie of Veritas Corporate Law; Catherine Less of Baker Street Advisors; and Stacy Nelson of Stacy Nelson & Associates LLC. We are thrilled to have such talented individuals join us.

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For almost twenty years, Greg Beattie of Lafayette, CA, along with his wife the talented vocalist Victoria Blythe, has been a volunteer performer with his band Calaveras. Their moving song Ready to Fly was inspired by a story they heard while playing for a senior convalescent audience for Bread & Roses. In addition to being a talented songwriter and musician, Greg has a law degree from Harvard and a B.A. from Stanford. He is the co-founder of his own boutique law firm, Veritas Corporate Law in Berkeley and San Francisco, CA.

Catherine Less of San Rafael, CA has been a committed Bread & Roses supporter and major donor since 1988 who has attended many benefits through the years. She has performed for Bread & Roses institutional audiences with the Lighthouse Singers and has a B.A. in Music from U.C. Berkeley. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), who currently works as Vice President of Baker Street Advisors, a comprehensive investment firm in San Francisco, CA.

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Honoring Our Veterans: Music on Memorial Day at the Menlo Park VA

We all know someone who is a veteran – a family member, a friend, a relative of a colleague, a son or daughter of a neighbor. So many sacrifices have been made for our freedom.

As I drove down to Menlo Park on Memorial Day, I could not think of a more appropriate place to be than the Veterans Hospital. I thought about my grandfather Colonel Robert L. Hubler who served in the trenches of WWI and my Uncle Paul Carey who was a disabled Korean War veteran.

It was a beautiful outdoor setting at the brand new Welcome Center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. We had older veterans from the convalescent hospital at their Community Living Center along with veterans from their Homeless Veterans Rehabilitation Program, a Western Blind Rehabilitation Center, and First Steps of Recovery, a substance abuse treatment program. Some veterans had family members and/or caregivers in attendance as well. 

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Interactive Clown Workshop at Oakland's 24-Hour Childcare with Circus of Smiles

We are making a special effort to bring more interactive programs to audiences across the board, especially to children and youth. Many talented performers excel at putting music and stories together in an interactive way with magic, movement, puppets, juggling and other performance art. 

Thanks to storyteller Kirk Waller; children's musicians Beth CrespanMadeleine KingGary LapowSpike SikesMiss KittyJoni de Gabriele; magicians Dan RaspyniDavid Facer, Frank Olivier; and so many others who are contributing to this effort. 

Recent efforts include a wonderful clown workshop with much audience participation by Circus of Smiles at 24-Hour Childcare in Oakland

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Spectacular 40th Anniversary Benefit A Great Success

 Bread & Roses hosted a sold-out and spectacularly successful 40th Anniversary fundraising event on Saturday March 1, 2014 at the Marin Center and Showcase Theatre.Transformed with twinkling lights and a stunning red and black décor, The Exhibit Hall was a fitting venue for the 280 guests who came to celebrate our legacy of four decades of live music for our neighbors in need who are isolated in the Bay Area.

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Noah Griffin and Phillip Percy Williams Present Black History Month Programs

Bread & Roses is often asked by the facilities we serve for special programs to help celebrate the landmark events of each season. In February of this year, Noah Griffin and Phillip Percy Williams (with Si Perkoff on piano) presented outstanding programs on behalf of Bread & Roses for Black History Month at the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron, CA and at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae.

Noah_GriffinNoah Griffin, a vocalist and recent founder of The Cole Porter Society, is also a historian who has a wealth of knowledge about black people who are important to history in the United States. On February 15, 2014, he captivated his audience of a hundred teen-age boys by starting out with stories about some of the well-known and inspirational athletes like Jackie Robinson in baseball and Arthur Ashe in tennis. 

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Farewell to Long-time Performers John chase Lewis and Phyllis Marcus

We are continually reminded of all the performers who have done shows for Bread & Roses through the decades, especially those who are no longer with us.

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Like piano and bass player the late John Chase Lewis who did hundreds of Bread & Roses shows for seniors and cheerfully accompanied many different vocalists through the years. John loved the joy of collaboration with other artists as well and played with many musicians for Bread & Roses including vocalists Joan Getz, Daria and Kat Fitzgerald, violinist Yehudit, jazz pianist Si Perkoff and the late Dr. Bill Pemberton and James Jenkins.

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40th Anniversary Benefit To Sustain Bread & Roses Into the Future

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Bread & Roses 40th Anniversary Benefit Celebration & Concert will be held on Saturday March 1st at the Marin Center Exhibit Hall and intimate Showcase Theatre in San Rafael at 5:30 pm.  This annual fundraising event, an important part of sustaining our program into the future,  will feature a once-in-a-lifetime concert with "Explorer of the Musical Universe" Bobby McFerrin backed by members of The Yellowjackets and the imaginative a cappella ensemble SoVoSó.

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New Performers Move Bread & Roses Forward Through Forty Years of Shows

sofiHow do we keep it real, fresh and upbeat? Through the generosity of a new wave of emerging artists who are joining the hundreds of volunteers who are the backbone of our program and who have been a huge boost for our youth audiences in particular.

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Bobby McFerrin's Joyous Improvisational Singing To Highlight Upcoming Benefit

 

bobby_mcI think we listen to music because we want to be changed. Music is not solely for our entertainment. Music has such tremendous power to bring joy. To me, that’s our job as artists. Not happiness, not a groove, whatever. You must bring joy. I think that’s the assignment. I have no doubt about it.”Bobby McFerrin

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Remembering Pete Seeger, True Friend to Bread & Roses

 

Pete Seeger, beloved singer, songwriter and activist, was an inspiration in the way he performed folk music to support the causes in which he deeply believed. A true friend to Bread & Roses, he performed with his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger at Bread & Roses 25th Anniversary Benefit with Mimi Fariña at the SF Opera House in 2000.

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Kudos to Nominees Jim Kennedy & Mark Hummel for 21st Annual Heart of Marin Awards!

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Kudos to Bread & Roses Board Chair Jim Kennedy and Volunteer Performer Mark Hummel for being this year's Bread & Roses nominees for the 21st Annual Heart of Marin Awards.

Jim was nominated by Executive Director Cassandra Flipper for Excellence in Board Leadership and Mark was nominated by Program Director Carolyn Gauthier for Volunteer of the Year.

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Teens Respond to Michael Pritchard's Message of Hope at Contra Costa Juvenile

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Bread & Roses is fortunate that Michael Pritchard is not only our Ambassador-At-Large but has been an ambassador of hope for many of our institutional audiences through the years. A gifted motivational speaker, Michael brings all of his life experiences to every program in a way that is immediate, compelling, humorous and life-affirming for those who most need to hear his message of the importance of having self esteem and caring about others.

Following a recent program for teens at Mt. McKinley School at Contra Costa Juvenile Hall in Martinez, teacher Ray Booker told Michael "It really makes a difference when you visit. You colorfully put into words and sounds many of the random and not-so-random thoughts they get but haven't found a way to express yet."

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Marco Benevento & The Novelists 12/1 Chapel Benefit A Smashing Success

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Pianist/song-writer and sound-sculptor extraordinaire Marco Benevento and special guests Reed Mathis and Cochrane McMillan from Tea Leaf Green performed an outstanding concert to benefit Bread & Roses on Sunday December 1 at The Chapel, a stylish new music and restaurant venue on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District.

The concert was a unique opportunity to hear Marco play -- in collaboration with Reed and Cochrane -- an inspired set of exuberant music with soaring instrumental melodies. A true highlight of the evening came when Marco invited any member of the audience to join him onstage in exchange for donating a dollar or two to Bread & Roses and piano teacher Holly Bowling responded.  A fan of Marco's for a long time, she came to the concert on her own and played Heart and Soul with him when she first sat down at the piano. The audience went wild when she then began to play with finesse a duet with him on his original song Atari. Click here to read the article "One Fan's Experience Sitting in with Marco Benevento" to hear what it was like first-hand. 

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Hard Rock Blues Brunch for Bread & Roses and Everybody Is A Star

Bread & Roses hosted a fun Blues Brunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (SF) on Sunday October 27th with Everybody Is A Star. All who were there enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet and soul-satisfying, live music. With world-class harmonica player Mark Hummel's Blues Blowout, special guests Nick Gravenites and Ron Thompson thrilled all with their spirited blues playing.  Performances were also given by  Loren Moale, Eva Sapper and Jeannette Denny from Everybody is a Star.
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Thanks so much to Bob Boemer at the Hard Rock Cafe on Pier 39 for donating the use of his stylish venue dedicated to the celebration of Rock & Roll to support two extraordinary organizations that share a belief in the power of music to transform lives and lift the human spirit.

We also appreciated the support of Howard Sapper and his volunteers who helped organize a raffle. Hats off to former board member Mary Doan who helped Bread & Roses kickoff the concept of this special collaboration.

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Rita Moreno & "Broadway Under the Stars" Benefit Cabaret

Rita_DancingOn Saturday Oct. 12, an outstanding cabaret concert was given by Rita Moreno at Coventry Grove in Kensington, CA , to benefit Bread & Roses.  Stephan Stubbins with Leah Sprecher and Robert Petrarca from "Broadway Under the Stars" opened giving all a sense of the wonderful music they present each summer at Jack London State Park.

Generous host Danny Scher opened his home and lovely amphitheatre amidst the redwood trees for our afternoon event to support our ongoing program of live music in 600 annual concerts for isolated people around the Bay.  On the board of the Bill Graham Foundation, Danny has been a supporter since Bread & Roses early days when he helped with production for our benefit concerts at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley.

Rita Moreno's intimate cabaret-style show (with trio Russell Kassoff on piano, David Rokeach on drums and Andrew Higgins on bass) transported all in feeling to the coziest club on Broadway.    It was thrilling to hear Ms. Moreno unearth such gems as An Errand Girl for Rhythm, Smoky Joe's and Send Me. She performed songs like Honeysuckle Rose about different women's lives.  She told funny stories mixing in real experiences from her life as she introduced each piece.  Her scat singing was a revelation on songs like Brasil. She even sang an early holiday song from her first home in Puerto Rico.

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