“Anybody do a bluegrass show?” These were the words that set my life down the road that I now find myself on. It is a pretty easy drive so far, because I learned a long time ago how to ask.
Debi Drummet, local banker and all round Lawrence do-gooder is who asked me the question. She and I have know each other for years and were having a pint at our favorite downtown watering hole one evening after work, and I asked her for some fresh ideas to raise funds for Independence, Inc. She has logged more volunteer hours than most people have working for pay. She has been to and has planned a lot of nonprofit fund raising events.
Golf? No I don’t play what my dad refers to “pasture pool”, and beside there is a million of them. Wine tasting? Well that is fine and all but as I just wrote I was having a pint, and it was not a pint of wine….besides there is very fine local nonprofit that has several events planned around wine. And Independence, Inc had one this summer to less than ample response. Auction? Well from my experience as serving as Debi’s right hand man for the St. Patrick’s Day Auction for many years, I know how much that entails, and I just don’t have the staff, or core of volunteers to pull something like that off. Bike race? No. 5K run…again no. Music show? Blues maybe?…My daughter attends The Ballard Center School and they have the brand on that. After another pint Debi asked me “Anyone do a bluegrass show?” I stopped, thought and the waves of ideas started to flow. I could hold it outside, on the land in the back of our building, and I know a couple of bluegrass musicians. Maybe in the spring. We could have food and beverage vendors, and t-shirt sales, and custom pint glasses, the possibilities were endless. To the back burner you go still unnamed bluegrass show idea, see you in the winter. And then…
We were contacted by a KU School of Business professor that needed projects for students to manage as part of their curriculum. Our Executive Director was thinking of different projects they could help with. All good ideas, but I asked her if I could have them plan, oh…I don’t know… let’s say… maybe a bluegrass show? I had to dig up my (oh sorry) Debi’s bluegrass show idea and put it back on the front burner. After all I only had these KU School of Business students for THIS semester.
I was soon introduced to Jenny and Steve, my students for this project. I gave them a list of tasks and asked them to find a venue, draft contracts for the bands, plan promotion, timelines, budgets etc . Since the weather will more than be a little chilly for an outdoor show, they needed to find a concert hall that is ADA compliant (or at least acceptable by our in-house expert), large enough to make it worth our while and not booked on a weekend date. After some research and negotiations by Jenny & Steve, I asked Mike Logan from the Granada what his nonprofit rate would be for that hall. He is giving us the nonprofit, first cousin rate for his venue. I asked Jay Wachs from KLWN and 92.2 The Bull (full disclosure, Jay is on our board) for radio time to promote. I asked everyone involved to come up with a name for this show. Jeff Frye from Mr. Bacon BBQ came up with “Homegrass” I added Hootenanny. Jeff and his business and life partner Valery will be there selling delicious food at the event and feeding all of the musicians. Will play for food and a good cause? Apparently. I asked Mike Hannah, also with the radio stations for help with getting bands to play, and boy what a great job he did! I asked Kevin O’Malley from O’Malley Beverage and Scott Teenor from Brigg’s Auto to be sponsors, and they both agreed. So many people helping me, can’t get any better than this. Or so I thought.
I am one of the co-chairs of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce Envoy Committee. We are kind of the Chamber’s welcome wagons for new businesses and those who are new to the Chamber. I was going to help host a ribbon cutting for a fairly new business in town that my friend Mary Johnson is launching. She is teaming up with a very nice Aussie named Leonie Chappell to do business consulting as M&M Consulting / SET International Midwest. I got to meet Ms. Chappell the other night at The Chamber’s “Live It Local” Expo. All of you working parents can relate to an impromptu “take your daughter to work day” I am sure. So as I am helping my four year old out of our mini-wagon, Leonie greeted me with a very warm smile and said that she was so glad she attended the Expo because she had won the Toshiba 32” HD TV which was one of the door prizes. It was donated by Toshiba Business Solutions where my friend and former co-worker Lyndon Jordan is the manager. I congratulated Leonie on her great fortune and she congratulated me back, because she remembered that I had an event coming up, and she wanted to donate this HD TV to Independence, Inc. for our event. Yup. Better and better still, and this time I didn’t even have to ask.
As you who are rabid readers of my rants will recall, it was just this summer when I had a KU basketball that kept bouncing back raising money and will now be raising more at The Hemi Jam on December 8th also at The Granada. And as you all will remember that YOU CAN NOT SELL RAFFLE TICKETS IN THE STATE OF KANSAS. So if you want in on the TV drawing, stop by our offices at 20th & Haskell, donate $5 and you are in. Or if you know me, shoot me a Facebook message and I get your donation.
We will be drawing for it at The Homegrass Hootenanny (name still makes me smile, thanks Jeff). Just look at this line up: Old Fangled, Pickett Paull and Genes, Jazz Cigarettes, The Sunflower Colonels, Ashes to Immortality, Tyler Gregory, and (drum roll, please) Truckstop Honeymoon! LOVE THEM! See I told you Mike Hannah did a great job!
Mark your calendars, and find us on Facebook. Sunday December 2nd at The Granada. Tickets are only $10 are available at The Granada or on their website. Doors open at 4:00 in the afternoon, because our target audience (people like me) goes to BED at 10:00 at night not leave the house to go to a show. All ages are welcome. So gather your family for some great music, buy your dinner from Mr. Bacon, donated to win a HD TV, and buy one of our custom Independence, Inc tie dye t-shirts. You do not want to miss this!
So, Thank You to Debi, Jenny, Steve, Ricki our intern, Jay, Mike and Mike, Jeff & Valery, Kevin, Scott, Lyndon, Mary Leonie, the bands, and my husband Gary who has at this point put up with me constantly talking about this. I am sure I am forgetting somebody. I do not want to forget to thank anybody because although I will get most of the credit if this is a big success, I did not really do that much, I just asked.
Independence, Inc is a local nonprofit organization that provides assistance to people with disabilities through advocacy, peer support, training, transportation, community education to live life independently. Brenda Brown is the Director of Development and Marketing for Independence, Inc.