Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Rock the pantry: All-day concert to benefit food bank

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Photo courtesy of the artist
Yes, we can jam: Shane Hines is among the performers who will take part in the Can Jam on Friday at the Saphire Café in Bethesda. Proceeds will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.

Ted Kelly's a-ha moment came when he heard that someone had robbed 1,000 pounds of donated food from a warehouse in Alexandria – food that the "A.L.I.V.E." Food Bank was to distribute to the poor.

"It resonated," says Kelly, a local deejay with a breakfast show on XM Satellite radio. "It said there is a serious problem here. In America, food banks are actually being broken into!

"It came to light how desperate these places are for resources."

Not that Kelly had been blithely unaware when it comes to the needs of the poor and the hungry.

He's the co-executive director of Music for a Purpose, a non-profit that "creates, promotes and supports music related events and product that directly provide revenue and resources to local, regional, national and international causes." Its last event was a benefit for poor people in cyclone-ravaged Myanmar, but on Friday, Kelly and his team are staging the Can Jam, a benefit at Bethesda's Saphire Café that will help the hungry right here at home.

"The response from the charitable organization was so positive, we decided to do more," he explains. "And then we read about the A.L.I.V.E. organization."

That's when the decision was made to raise money – and food supplies – for the Capital Area Food Bank, which distributes 20 million pounds of food each year through a network of 700 member agencies.

"They've given us a target list of items of key need, things that are non-perishable and can always be distributed," Kelly says.

And on Friday, from noon until way after midnight, charity-minded music fans who bring two cans of food and a $10 donation will get an earful in return.

"It's literally 14 hours of some great local talent," says Kelly. "An all-day event for people of all ages, and rather than making it a lock-in event, it's something where people can float in and out.

"The schedule is available on the Web site."

In between sets of acoustic and full band performances, he adds, DJ Zoltar from XM 82 The System will spin music.

Kelly is particularly excited about Arlington rocker Shane Hines, who will perform with his band The Trance.

"The thing about Ted and the Can Jam," says Hines, "I think it's important to do those kinds of things – not as part of ‘building relationships,' but just to be involved, to do stuff for other people.

"I believe music is bigger than the people that make it."

The people who make music have always been a big part of Hines' life: "Everybody played," he remembers. "Music was just around, you know?"

Since childhood, Hines says, "The Beatles have always been my band…but I listened to whatever was around, and at 14, I got hardcore into blues and rockabilly.

"I became a big fan of Buddy Holly — I couldn't get enough! — which was strange for a kid my age. And Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, T-Bone Walker — I'd always go back to the source."

Hines loved the blues, and loved writing songs, too. At George Mason University, he earned a bachelor of arts degree in English composition.

"That's the one thing I listened to my dad about," he laughs. After graduation, he plunged into a career as a musician.

Hines used to supplement his income by giving guitar lessons, a practice he stopped after he and his wife had twins, and he scaled back to help out at home.

"It was more of a personal decision, for family reasons, he says. "We feel pretty fortunate."

Maybe because, career-wise, Hines has made some unusual inroads: His songs have been featured on reality shows like "The Hills" and "Road Rules" on the MTV network.

"We are always looking for opportunities," he says. "We view TV and film as our radio; for independent bands, it's a great way to go."

And getting there is all about reaching out to others.

"I hate the word ‘networking,'" Hines says. "It sounds so crass and not very genuine. What it comes down to is meeting people, building connections."

Performing in a benefit like the Can Jam, he says, is a way of connecting in an even more important way.

"I'm not trying to look like some superhero or something," he says. "I think about myself and my music so much, maybe too much. It's good to step back from yourself for a minute.

"I don't have loads of money to give to the food bank, but we can give of ourselves, our music."

Music For A Purpose presents the 2008 CAN JAM, an all-day concert on Friday, noon to 1 a.m., at Saphire Café, 7940 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, to benefit The Capital Area Food Bank. Tickets are $10 plus the donation of two non-perishable items. Call 301-986-9708 or visit

Top 10 non-perishables recommended as donations by The Capital Area Food Bank

1. Canned Protein (tuna, chicken, salmon, peanut butter)

2. Canned Fruit (applesauce, peaches, pears, pineapple)

3. 100% Fruit Juice (all sizes including juice boxes)

4. Canned Vegetables (mixed, green beans, corn)

5. Soups (beef stew, chili, chicken noodle, turkey rice)

6. Cereal (Cheerios, cornflakes, grape nuts, raisin bran)

7. Easy & Ready Meals (macaroni & cheese, pasta bowls, canned pasta)

8. Healthy Snacks (raisins, dried fruit, nuts, cereal bars)

9. Hygiene Products (bar soap, toothpaste, shampoo)

10. Paper Products (paper towels, toilet paper, diapers, facial tissue, paper plates/cups, plastic forks/spoons)