Community comes together to plan Bombadil benefit concert
SALISBURY — Tucked away in a room inside Park Avenue United Methodist Church, a small group meets from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.
They talk about everything from stress management to interviewing skills and end the session with a Bible study.
The group of guests from Rowan Helping Ministries travels from the Long Street shelter to the church for refuge.
At the shelter, they get food, clothing and a place to rest their heads. The church, which houses Rowan Helping Ministries’ New Tomorrows program, provides them friendship and life skills to help them get back on their feet.
The number of New Tomorrows participants fluctuates, but the group is typically small, giving program manager Teresa Vinson a chance to get to know each person.
“It’s a very well-rounded program,” she said “It supplies them with life skills and the kind of skills they will need for employment.
“I’ve seen people benefit from it.”
In order to keep the group running, they need funds to help with rent and utility costs.
That’s where a Durham-based band named Bombadil comes in.
They’ll play a concert with all proceeds going toward the program on March 17 at the Heritage Room on Council Street.
New Tomorrows participants have been working with Catawba and Livingstone college students to plan the St. Patrick’s Day event.
“The original intent of a St. Patrick’s Day celebration was to honor Patron Saint Patrick,” said Linda Kesler, a Catawba professor who volunteers with New Tomorrows. “People would go to church in the morning and then have an afternoon feast with music and dancing, which sort of broke up the long Lenten season.
“The idea was that it was a community-building experience, and in a lot of ways, so is this concert.”
Meet the band
Bombadil drummer James Phillips said the group, which is currently touring as a three-piece band while guitarist Bryan Rahija wraps up graduate school, is excited about the chance to help the community.
“Rowan Helping Ministries is awesome,” he said. “Sometimes people get down on their luck, so it’s nice to have this organization to kind of lift them back up.”
Band members Daniel Michalak and Stuart Robinson will play two 45-minute sets alongside Phillips during the March 17 concert.
“I think our sound is folk-influenced pop music with a kind of ’60s British rock vibe like The Beatles or the Kinks,” Phillips said. “We all sing, which I think is kind of unusual as a band, and we focus a lot on harmonies.”
The band will release its fourth full-length record this summer under Concord-based Ramseur Records, which also signed The Avett Brothers.
“Since we get to play two sets, we can play some new songs that haven’t been performed that much,” Phillips said. “We’ve been on the road for about the last six months, and we’ve been putting together a pretty high energy show.”
Bombadil has performed benefit concerts before, but Phillips said they have to find the right cause.
Phillips said he knew that was the case with New Tomorrows because he’s met people who have been through similar programs.
“They really value them,” he said. “It’s great we get to help out just by doing what we like to do.”
Catawba juniors Allijah Motika and Olivia Albertson will open the show.
Motika describes his music as a folk and bluegrass, while Albertson focuses on acoustic country tunes.
“I’m so excited and extremely honored to be chosen to play in the concert,” Albertson said. “I’m really excited.”
Kesler decided to get her theater arts management students involved in the planning process when she heard about the concert.
“Real world events carry more weight with students than hypotheticals,” she said. “We had a wonderful discussion about what they could contribute.”
Junior Geo Gamble said the class talked about ways to get college students to the concert.
“We talked about advertising on the home pages of Catawba and Livingstone and emailing out links to Bombadil’s music,” he said.
Senior Courtney Cowman said the class also plans to set up a booth in the student center to hand out information about the concert.
“Our ideas are helping the organization out in making sure the event runs smoothly and reaching a lot of people our age,” she said. “It’s been interesting because when it’s just on paper the event can’t take place.
“Now, our ideas are actually becoming a reality.”
Gamble said he feels more invested in the project.
“There’s an added sense of commitment to the cause that you don’t get in just an exercise,” he said.
While Catawba students focus on drawing younger people to the concert, New Tomorrows participants have been marketing to the community at-large by putting up flyers throughout Salisbury.
They also surveyed several sites before deciding on the Heritage Room, which seats about 200 people.
“It’s important for them to have a hand in the planning because it’s teaching them other skill sets they may not ever get the opportunity to learn,” Vinson said. “It allows them to have some input and support their own program.
“It empowers them, in a sense, to be proactive in this process.”
Cowman said she hopes a mix of students and community members will attend the show.
“It’s a great cause and a great band,” she said. “You get to help people who are less fortunate, but you can have fun doing it.”
The spud bar
Gamble said his class originally suggested serving pizza during the event, but when the idea for a potato bar came up it felt like a better fit.
“It’s more theme-oriented and it’s a vegetarian option,” he said.
A group of about 10 students from Livingstone’s newly launched hospitality management and culinary arts program will prepare the “spud bar.”
Vivian Ray, the college’s hospitality coordinator, said she jumped at the opportunity for her students to participate in the event.
“When I meet someone, the first thing I tell them is we need to find ways for students to use their skills,” she said.
Student Rebecca Pendergrass is the lead chef for the event, which means she’ll put together the menu, order the food and lead a team in cooking the creations.
Pendergrass has already decided to make Irish potato salad that includes a blend of kale, cabbage, parsley and cumin.
“She researched and came up with a list of ingredients that are particular to the Irish culture,” Ray said.
Pendergrass also plans to cook a chicken-stuffed potato and a Brie-stuffed jack in the box potato.
“For the Brie potato, the internal part is going to be yellow and the outside is going to be dyed green for a pot of gold effect, so it’s kind of kid friendly,” she said. “I tried to incorporate the St. Patrick’s Day theme as much as possible.”
Pendergrass said she picked dishes with bold flavors that will have a “wow effect.”
She said she’s excited about being part of the concert.
“I went over to Rowan Helping Ministries to do some planning and I was really touched by what they do,” she said. “It’s always the right thing to give back, and at the same time I’m getting to put the skills I learned in class into action.”
Ray said the project blends the college’s mission of rigorous academics and community outreach.
“It’s a real win-win,” she said.
Sonic will be donating green beverages and Jubilee Balloons will chip in the centerpieces.
Catawba’s popular music program will handle the sound during the event.
Vinson said she’s been impressed by the amount of support the concert has received.
“It shows people are very caring,” she said. “They are willing to step up to the plate and help with whatever we need.”
Contact lifestyle editor Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.