All of the proceeds will be donated to the Hudson Alliance to End Homelessness in Hudson County, and will benefit area providers of services to the homeless. Admission for the event is $10 + blanket or $20 without a blanket.
"This is a way to get people to come out and do something enjoyable, with the side benefit being that you get to help people who are homeless," said event coordinator Dale Hardman. Hardman got the idea from a similar function held in Garwood last month. The event, called Blank-Fest NJ, is an annual charitable concert that provides blankets to the homeless in New York and New Jersey.
"I thought 'that's a great idea,'" he said. "I decided, 'why don't we have a similar event and bring out people of all ages."
A Jersey City resident of over 25 years, Hardman has been actively involved in the community for much of that time. He runs BrightMoment Meetup, a group that produces cultural events that provide community outreach. They've had poetry readings, music, film screenings, live music and dance programs.
A good cause
All money raised by BrightMoment Meetup's event will be donated to the Hudson Alliance to End Homelessness in Hudson County.
In September 2006 the Alliance came together and created a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Hudson County. Part of that plan is Project Homelessness Connect, which the alliance will be running this week. The project conducts a homeless count in conjunction with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, while at the same time providing basic services to the homeless of Hudson County.
Hardman said he purposely planned the MusicFest to run around the date of the county count to raise awareness of the problem.
Hardman, a performance poet with the jazz/poetry band, "Bright Moments!", said he wanted to book musicians for the MusicFest that reflected his own diverse musical tastes. "My interests range from avante garde to zydeco," he said. There's not a music form you can mention that we're not trying to bring."
And the artists do indeed cover a broad spectrum of genres.
The performers include: Damien Catera (guitar), Bryan Beninghove Band (jazz), Christine Santelli and band (rock/blues), and belly dancing by Ariel and her drummer "Doumbekchi." "Doumbekchi," also known as Gregory Gochtovtt, is a recently-returned veteran of the Iraq war, who will play the congas with Chimene Petitt & "Let's Dance Band."
Petitt's band will be providing "party rock" to the party.
"We will be playing very upbeat music," said Petitt, the band's leader. "We want people to be happy so they will spend their money for a good cause," she joked. Petitt, a vocalist who has performed with Sting, Barry Manilow and Harry Connick, Jr., among others, hopes her feel-good music will add to the festive atmosphere of the event.
"Let's celebrate how we can help each other, because Jersey City is booming with artistic talent," said Petitt. "When you have an area that's growing like Jersey City, you have to take some civic responsibility for some of the trouble spots."
The jazz element of the evening will be provided by the Bryan Beninghove band. Beninghove, who will be playing traditional and Latin jazz with a quartet, is a fixture of the Jersey City jazz scene. A resident of Jersey City, he plays every Thursday at the Iron Monkey.
"I always try to help out when I can," Beninghove said. "And if all I'm going to do is play my sax, it's easy for me."
He said he understands that homelessness is serious issue in Jersey City, though sometimes it may not be so apparent. "You don't know how bad a problem [homelessness] is. It stays out of the limelight. But it's a problem that's always there. It's like hunger or anything else."
Art lovers will see "Reverence for All Living Creatures, an exhibit curated by Jill Scipione and Sandra de Sando that runs until Feb. 18. The exhibit explores the mystery of the interconnectedness between people and animals. James Pustorino, Managing Director of Victory Hall said that the exhibit has attracted artists from all over the country, including performance artist Rachel Rosenthal from Los Angeles, who is known for her work in support of animal rights.
He said that the MusicFest and the art exhibit have a common theme: respect for life. Pustorino said he is expecting several hundred people to turn out for the event. "I hope people will come out for a good cause."
MusicFest for the Homeless will be held at the Victory Hall Cultural Center, at 186 Grand Street, from 7 to 11 p.m. on Jan. 31. For more information, contact Victory Hall at (201) 209 0510. Or visit http://filmind.meetup.com/257/about/