Great Concert To Benefit Homelessness
Mighty Sam McClain was a tremendous force on the Boston music scene who sadly passed away earlier this year. On Saturday, November 28th, there is a memorial concert for him at the Regent Theatre in Arlington that will benefit homelessness. You know you have nothing better to do that night!
What follows is a piece written by John McGah, the founder and executive director of Give US Your Poor: The Campaign to End Homelessness. John knew Sam’s story well.
“Mighty Sam McClain and Homelessness
Sam McClain talked compellingly about his experience with homelessness first as a boy growing up with an abusive stepfather that drove him out of his home; and later as an adult when he became homeless and wrestled with alcohol addiction. In 1966 Sam made a name for himself with a soul hit of the Patsy Cline song, “Sweet Dreams.” But after success with that and other singles, Sam hit a period of 15 years fifteen years, first in Nashville, then in New Orleans where he worked menial jobs and was forced to sell his plasma while he was again homeless as an adult. From cotton fields to the Apollo Theater to the park bench, all while living the songs that would jump-start his career in the mid-1980. During the lowest of times in New Orleans, the Neville Brothers extended themselves to Sam and offered help.
Sam told the story how at one point he was picking through a garbage can looking for food, when he stopped to reflect on the situation he was in. He looked up to the sky and said, “God, if you can see me out this predicament, I will never stop praising your name.” He did find his way home and never stopped praising God. That powerful moment became the core of a song that he co-wrote with his friend and band saxophonist, Scott Shelter called, “Show Me The Way.”
In 2006, Sam connected with the Give US Your Poor campaign to help end homelessness. Give US Your Poor, then based at UMass Boston, was utilizing music to help dispel myths about homelessness. A CD was in the works that brought together celebrity musicians and musicians that are or were homeless. He fell into both categories. Sam had produced a CD with Boston blues singer Weepin’ Willie Robinson that featured Sam and Susan Tedeschi. Willie was formerly homeless and appeared on the Give US Your Poor CD with Bonnie Raitt. Through the connection Sam met the project and agreed to support Give US Your Poor. For the CD, also called “Give US Your Poor,” Sam recorded a duet of his song with Jon Bon Jovi, the song inspired by his homelessness and his plea to God.
The CD featured talented musicians from 13 (Kyla Middleton) to 89 (Pete Seeger). Sam was the only artist to perform on two tracks, the duet with Jon Bon Jovi, and another with Natalie Merchant and other musicians that had experienced homelessness called “No Good Reason.” That track was written by a 15 year old girl in Minnesota when she was living in a homeless shelter. A video of the making of that CD, including an interview with Sam and footage of him singing (and Natalie and others) can be found here: http://www.giveusyourpoor.org/media/video-clips.php
Other celebrity artists on the CD included Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jon Bon Jovi, Jewel, Keb’ Mo’, Pete Seeger, John Sebastian, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Mario Frangoulis, Madeleine Peyroux, Buffalo Tom, Natalie Merchant and Dan Zanes. Give US Your Poor CD: http://www.giveusyourpoor.org/media/cd.php
Sam McClain, and his band, and Natalie Merchant and international tenor, Mario Frangoulis, and Boston rock band, Buffalo Tom, split the bill in a homelessness benefit produced with then Mayor Menino to support Give US Your Poor and 10 homeless agencies in Dorchester’s Strand Theatre in 2007. A highlight was the duet of Mighty Sam McClain and Mario Frangoulis performing “Amazing Grace” which Sam later said was like the two artists were looking into each other’s souls. Sam also teamed with Mario Frangoulis to perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center also to support homelessness.”
Some of the artists performing at this show are The Mighty Sam McClain Band, Ted Drozdowski, Concetta, Digney Fignus, Big James Montgomery, Dave Keller, Bob Moore, Tyler Morris, Knut Reiersrud, Bob Teague, and The Wait.
Tickets for this show – worthwhile for both the charity as well as the quality of the music that will be performed – can be bought by clicking here.
Posted on November 23, 2015, in concert announcements, music, Uncategorized and tagged Big James Montgomery, Bob Moore, Bob Teague, Concetta, Dave Keller, Digney Fignus, Give US Your Poor, homelessness, John McGah, Knut Reiersrud, Mighty Sam McClain, Regent Theatre, Ted Drozdowski, The Wait, Tyler Morris. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.