Once I Built A Railroad, Now It’s Done…


It’s no secret that things are tough out there right now for a lot of people. Musicians tend to have an even more precarious relationship with solvency than do most of the rest of us, with no health insurance when illness intervenes and no unemployment benefits when gigs dry up. Those of us who sometimes take music for granted owe a lot to the folks who make that music, and I’m here tonight to give us all a chance to pay part of that debt to those who most need it paid. Here are three charities that help either musicians in need or, in one case, people in need of musicians. I hope you’ll be able to help one or more of them.

From Bread and Roses’s Mission Statement: “Bread and Roses is dedicated to uplifting the human soul by providing free, live, quality entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society.” Bread and Roses was founded in 1974 by Mimi Farina, and now presents more than 500 shows per year at nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters, and for other audiences who might otherwise live what no Harry’s Music reader could tolerate: a life without music.

The Music Maker Relief Foundation, according to its mission statement, helps the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day to day needs. We present these musical traditions to the world so American culture will flourish and be preserved for future generations.” Their advisory board includes such luminaries as Bonnie Raitt, B. B. King, and Levon Helm, and among the musicians currently on the MMRF roster are Adolphus Bell, Little Freddie King, and The Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Last but most assuredly not least, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which “provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.” Sweet Relief was founded in 1994 by Victoria Williams, after she was stricken with multiple sclerosis. Since then, Sweet Relief has provided exactly that to thousands of musicians in need.

I’ve checked all these organizations out through Guidestar and can enthusiastically grant them the Harry’s Music seal of approval. To back that up, the Harry’s Music Board of directors has unanimously voted to match reader donations up to $100 total for each of the three organizations described above (maximum cost to Harry’s Music $300). Let me know about your donation in comments or e-mail me directly at dbashline-at-gmail.com. Anonymous donations are welcome – just tell us how much you kicked in and we’ll take care of the rest.

Thanks to all for your generosity, and if you need any additional encouragement, here’s Bing Crosby, making his first Harry’s Music appearance and singing about an earlier, even tougher time. Please enjoy!


One Response to “Once I Built A Railroad, Now It’s Done…”

  1. marty goldman Says:

    It is interesting to look up the genesis of the expression “Bread and Roses”
    There is a labor day festival in Lawrence commemorating the 1911 strike. There you will see booths representing the now splinter labor groups such as the IWW and Socialist parties
    There are lots of folk singers , dancers etc @ the festival

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