Josh Stack, founder and executive director of Funding America Through Entertainment, first began combining his passion for music with his mission to end hunger two decades ago. “Back in the early ‘90s in the Southeast, everybody went to see Widespread Panic,” he says. “The band let me set up a table and raise money at their concerts.” These days, he’s working with local groups such as bluegrass outfit Town Mountain.
On the heels of a European tour, that band comes home to Asheville to perform a benefit concert at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall on Saturday, Dec. 20. The show, which raises funds for FATE and MANNA FoodBank, is now in its third year. The partnership has already raised more than $3,000 at past concerts. This time around, Town Mountain invited Mandolin Orange (think: bluegrass, rock and country) to join the bill. “The music is of a superior caliber,” says Stack. “Both bands boast regional and national recognition.”
Town Mountain has performed at prestigious festivals including MerleFest, Grey Fox and Targhee Bluegrass Festival. The band’s traditional bluegrass sound swings from a honky-tonk edge to a laid-back groove, inspired by the first generation of bluegrass pioneers. Mandolin Orange recently released its third album, This Side of Jordan. Using acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin and fiddle, its sound appeals to both bluegrass lovers and the indie-rock crowd.
Plus, the high-energy show is in line with FATE’s model: to engage people while they are already enjoying themselves. “Hunger relief is a concern in our region and globally, and this is our attempt to be part of the solution,” says Town Mountain banjo player and vocalist Jesse Langlais. “It’s an issue that we should all be more aware of.”
According to Stack, 17 million children in America are food insecure. “Hunger is something nobody can argue with. We all need food and shelter,” he says. “It’s a unifying factor.” A portion of all ticket sales will be donated to FATE and MANNA FoodBank. The proceeds from a 50/50 raffle contribute to the fundraiser, and New Belgium Brewing will donate proceeds from beer sales along with a monetary bonus.
WHAT: Bluegrass Holiday Benefit
WHERE: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, isisasheville.com
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 20, 9 p.m., $20