I created my Twitter account back in Summer 2008 because, let’s face it, by mid-August even teachers get bored, and bored tech teachers amuse themselves with sites like Twitter! The community I’m a part of now is vibrant, supportive, and encouraging. One of my newest discoveries, however, gives back to the community in a uniquely NJ way. Local band Kindred Souls’ Diner Tour in support of the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties takes place this weekend, March 19 – 21 at diners across the state.
Keyboardist Lon Bacharach was kind enough to answer a few questions about this fundraiser for our blog this week after graciously agreeing to play at our tweetup/fundraiser on March 27th at Rockn’ Joe’s in Pt. Pleasant Beach, proving once again that this band gives back to our community.
VOXPOPNJ: How did Kindred Souls get involved with the Food Bank?
LON BACHARACH: Last summer, when we did the release party for our EP Social Ninja at The Saint in Asbury Park, we did a peanut butter and jelly fundraiser tie in for The Monmouth and Ocean County Food Bank. They do a lot of work with state run kid’s camps. We encouraged people to bring jars of PB&J to the show. We filled two 33 gallon cans. With that and cash donations, we were able to raise enough for 2,000 pounds of food. We thought that was great and wanted to do more.
VPNJ: That’s quite a success! Another fundraiser is understandable, but why a diner tour?
LB: Well, we decided that more meant bigger. We need to do something that people will take note of, something that people statewide can identify with. And what is more innate to New Jersey than diners and rock&roll? Not everybody in New Jersey listens to the same kind of music, but everybody in New Jersey goes to the diner. So what if we played at one diner in each of the 21 counties of New Jersey, and got each table to donate one dollar for one weekend? How many thousands of pounds of food could that buy?
VPNJ: So what went in to the planning of the diner tour?
LB: Well, the first step of course was to get the diners. I became the diner liaison for the event, made a list of the 21 counties, bought a state road atlas, did some online diner research, and I was on my way. On my day off, I would pick 2 or 3 counties, make a short list of no more than six diners per, and go diner-hopping with a one page proposal in my right hand, and a letter from the food banks, making us their ambassadors of good will, in my left.
After several months of doing this, collecting contacts and having commitments from diners in the different counties, we put a team together, mostly volunteers, to help us coordinate the publicity and public awareness. We had people contacting newspapers, radio, TV stations, blogs, facebook pages, magazines, mayors, high schools, websites, etc.,etc. This effort was tirelessly officiated by our drummer, Paul Lavenhar, who deserves a great deal of credit for doing a fantastic job.
The response to our efforts has been overwhelming. We are forever grateful to all the people that, in whatever way, have gotten behind this.
VPNJ: But why Jersey? I know, your website says Kindred Souls has been all over and the band is now settled in NJ but why? Most of us have a love / hate relationship with the state…
LB: New Jersey by pure happenstance. Jeff Rafferty, Kindred Souls’ singer-songwriter and myself, after traveling all across the country for some years, and becoming seasoned songwriters, performers and musicians, decided it was time to become good businessmen, and decided we should be close to New York.
We had a long time friend in Middlesex, NJ, and we found a place close to her, only 40 minutes from NYC. Overall, I used to wonder if people actually have disconnected turn signals, and why was everybody in such a hurry all the time? But through the experience of getting to know the WHOLE state, and seeing all of the good will that people have shown us, I suppose I have developed a fondness for my fellow New Jerseyites.
VPNJ: And NJ is definitely fond of Kindred Souls! A heartfelt thank you to Lon for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check out some tracks from Kindred Soul’s newest release, Social Ninja, on their website, catch them on their diner tour this weekend, and check them out at Rockn’ Joe’s next Saturday at our “Music meets Social Media” event in support of PassionWorks.
If you can’t make it to the diner over the weekend, please donate online at www.dinertournj.com/donation.htm.