Volume 14, Issue 9 ~ March 2 - March 8, 2006

Pay it Forward

Sit back while musicians convert your dollars to good causes

by Carrie Steele

In the easiest volunteering job around, you sit back in a padded seat and soak in the music. Eight Calvert County acts do all the work, jamming and harmonizing for philanthropy’s sake in the 7th annual Calvert Artists’ Showcase.

It’s an inspired pass-along. Each act stands in for a good cause dear to its members’ hearts. You pay to hear them. They pay your dollars forward.

Since 2000, $325,000 has been paid forward to 36 good causes working for historical and environmental preservation, people in crisis, youth organizations, the mentally challenged, food pantries and shelters, animal welfare and art.

Here’s who’ll you’ll hear this year at the Mary Harrison Cultural Arts Center and the good you’ll do by taking on this sinecure. Sure it’s easy, but somebody’s got to do it. So pay it forward, sit back, enjoy.

Robert Snider Plays for Project ECHO

Passion for people in tight spots moves Owings jazz percussionist Robert Snider. In the mid-1980s, Snider was inspired by the dedication of activist Mitch Snyder, now dead, who guilted Washington, D.C., into sheltering the homeless.

“He was a real advocate for the homeless,” Snider said. “I helped on Christmas dinner there. It really opened my eyes that the homeless aren’t all just panhandlers on the street. A lot of people are just down on their luck; maybe one paycheck away from being on the streets. Mitch got me aware of that.”

The commitment stuck. Snider’s wife and daughter regularly help serve meals at Project ECHO, an emergency shelter in Prince Frederick.

“They really give people a second chance,” the jazzman says.

Chesapeake Church Music Group Sings for Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry

Warm meals are the goal of the Chesapeake Church Music Group, whose members selected their church’s Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry, which serves some 2,500 families each year with food and helps find jobs, housing, medicine and more.

“We chose it because we’ve seen it work firsthand,” said Daniel Palmer, singer, guitarist and pianist for the worship-style sextet. “I’ve seen the difference it makes in the community.”

Camero & Cottrell, Friends of Felines

Stray cats need shelter, too, Treasure Camero will tell you. Her passion for pets is why Camero & Cottrell plays to benefit Friends of Felines.

“I’m the pet person,” says the singer, guitarist, fiddler and djembe player, who partners with Greg Cottrell and Phil Camero, blending Celtic, classical and folk music with rock.

Camero has recently rescued a mother cat and a litter of kittens abandoned at Sotterly Plantation in St. Mary’s County. “We played down there and saw the cats were stray so I brought them home,” says Camero, who says she currently has “six indoor cats and one back-porch cat — all rescues.”

The King Swingers Sing for Friends of the Mary Harrison Center

The Friends of the Mary Harrison Center maintain Calvert County’s performing arts center. The King Swingers have made that Owings center their second home.

“They sing there some seven to eight times a year, including four concerts and other productions throughout the year,” says ensemble director and choir teacher Amy Costanzo. Her 14 singers hope to raise money to pay for a newly configured sound system and additional storage and set construction.

Stefanie Watson Plays for Bay Arts Center

Art is no respecter of age at Bay Arts Center, where people from ages two to 102 learn to watercolor, paint, draw, sculpt, make jewelry and play guitar under the guidance of local artists. Stefanie Watson’s a pianist, but her mother and aunts are visual artists and inspired her choice.

John Luskey Plays for the Southern Maryland Red Cross

Disaster relief is the cause of singer/songwriter John Luskey, who spends half his time playing in Nashville and has opened for such headliners as The Righteous Brothers, The Moody Blues, and 10,000 Maniacs. Lusky is playing for the American Red Cross, Southern Maryland chapter because of its aid to a friend who survived a house fire.

Earl Miller plays for the East John Youth Center

Earl Miller taught himself to play piano. He’s playing for the East John Youth Center of Lusby so other kids have teachers. There, he says, “the next innovators, inventors, scientists, musicians and leaders … can become all they are meant to become in life.”

Tonya Turner Jackson Sings for Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maryland

Tonya Turner Jackson is a Boys and Girls Club alumna. That’s why the Owings singer, who released her premier single last year, is dedicating this night’s works to the clubs.

Calvert Artists Showcase: 2pm March 5 at the Mary Harrison Cultural Arts Center, Owings. $15-10 w/discounts: 410-257-2627.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.