By Amy L. Friedman
On November 9, Philadelphia singer Irene Lambrou, “stunned and reeling” from the election results, typed a determined announcement on Facebook: “Friends, we are making lemonade. A concert for healing. A fundraiser to help in the fight. PM me, all you musician friends and planner types. Love. Conquers. Hate.”
Nine weeks later her vision materialized at 7165 Restaurant and Bar in Mt. Airy. Several hundred people gathered for an evening of music and inspiration on Saturday January 14; spirits were lifted and funds were raised. Jennifer Trzcinski Smith joined in to be mistress-of-ceremonies and to cover the non-musical organizing for the event, while Lambrou secured the bands.
The aim was to help fellow devastated Philadelphians to rise up, unite, and find common ground. All with a wicked-good soundtrack.
The final line-up comprised a varied soft-rock, rockabilly, alt-rock, classic rock, and Brazilian funk vibe, featuring the groups Trickster Sister, Hank’s Cadillac, Paige K, The Revival, Almshouse, and PhillyBloco.
“I take a moment to breathe. I’ll see that flame again one day.” – lyric sung by Trickster Sister’s Marion Halliday.
Even the tech work was done with commitment to a cause. The evening was punctuated by brief sound checks before each band embarked on stage. “We sound-check because we care,” quipped Kim Alexander of Hank’s Cadillac.
Paige K and her band reminded all that donations were being taken at the info table for Ceasefire PA, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Planned Parenthood.
In the end, the concert took in $3000 at the door, divided equally among environmental causes: Earthjustice, The Union of Concerned Scientists, and The Sierra Club Foundation. Additional funds raised came to: $180 for Planned Parenthood, $124 for Ceasefire PA, $64 for The Southern Poverty Law Center, and $54 for the ACLU.
During a brief quiet moment, singer Kim Alexander shared her motivation for performing: “I really hope the next four years don’t suck aren’t as bad as what we think they might be. Being involved tonight at least makes us feel we are doing something and are not completely helpless.”
“I’ll find my faith again one day” – Lyric sung by Marion Halliday of Trickster Sister.
Paige Kytzidis, lead singer of alt-rock band, Paige K, contended: “The title of this event, ‘Not Going Back,’ sums it up for me. I am 18, and I voted, and now I am feeling disaffected by the outcome of this election! Tonight, here is a group that wants to go forward by coming together. The music is an added bonus.”
“Can’t you see? We do disagree.” – Lyric sung by Paige K., explained after the show as reflecting “a satire of the current polarization in the country today.”
Irene Lambrou, event organizer and lead singer of Almshouse, maintained that her group had chosen to avoid ballads with sad messages for the evening. But could it have been coincidence alone that part-way through her band’s set she was belting out Linda Ronstadt’s assertive put-down, “You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good, Baby you’re no good. I’m gonna say it again!”
Best political t-shirt seen at the event on a woman: “America Needs More Nasty Women.”
Best political t-shirt seen at the event on a man: “Feminist As Fuck.”
Dancing broke out at precisely 7:38 pm, and continued, with breaks, among many of the 200-plus crowd, till PhillyBloco arrived nearly 4 hours later, 16-strong and heavy on that hip-pulsing percussion. In fire-red shirts, they enter in a samba parade with a shimmying dancer (#17) leading the way. Chairs emptied as a crowd followed them to the dance floor.
“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?” – lyric sung by The Revival, featuring vocal solo by keyboard player Andrew McMaster.
“I’ve been so devastated by recent events these last few months,” explained singer-songwriter Marion Halliday of Trickster Sister. “I need to engage in a positive way, and to be surrounded by people with shared values. Yes, opposite sides need to listen to each other too. But tonight has been very healing.”
Justin W. Storey, one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Philadelphia (which happened this past Saturday) took the stage to offer encouragement and to articulate some of those shared values. He reminded the audience that we each have something at stake at present. “This is the start of a movement,” Storey noted later, “It is just the beginning.”
The most authentic, anthem-ic moment of the entire spirited evening arguably occurred during The Revival’s set, with singer Peg Talbott-Lane channeling George Michael through her own powerful pipes: “Freedom! I won’t let you down. Freedom! I will not give you up. Freedom! Have some faith in the sound.”
Irene Lambrou predicts more concerts to come: “This is the beginning. We keep going.”