Not only does our beloved town of Portland possess an extravagant music scene with a pool of talented artists, our little slice of the Northeast also boasts some of the biggest enthusiasm from musicians and music lovers alike when it comes to supporting a worthwhile cause. On Friday, May 20, Portland came together for a sold-out show at Portland House of Music and Events (HOME) produced by Greg Martens, founder of Go Big for Hunger, a campaign to end child hunger in the state of Maine.
With local acts including the Maine Dead Project, Pardon Me, Doug, Jason Spooner Band, the Raging Brass Reggae, and comedy from Kimmy, an eclectic group of up to 30 guest musicians graced the stage throughout the night, all volunteering their talent, time and equipment. The guest of honor for the evening was none other than Grammy-award winning artist, John Popper. For those of you who don’t know, or just happened to live under a rock during the '90s, Popper has been the frontman for the seminal jam band Blues Traveler, for 30 years. The band was awarded a Grammy for its 1994 mainstream hit, “Run-Around.”
A close personal friend of Martens, Popper has graced Portland with his presence on numerous occasions, including Martens’ 50th birthday party in 2013. This two-day event was similar to the Go Big for Hunger show as it was a Martens-produced show that included a collection of Portland musicians with all proceeds going to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
Go Big for Hunger was Martens’ first show at HOME since Ken Bell opened the music club just over a year ago. Many of us know Ken from the days of the Big Easy on Market Street. Since opening HOME, Ken has offered a perfect mix of national touring acts while still providing a big stage to showcase local talent.
As a local musician myself, I can honestly say how great it has been to see Ken transition from reluctantly closing the Big Easy, to fighting his way back and opening one of the best clubs in Portland. It’s not often that you witness such mutual respect and support between musicians and a club owner. That respect was never more present than the Go Big for Hunger show.
I could go on to dissect each individual performance but that would not be in conjunction with the spirit of the night. While it does not always come easy to any artist, egos were required to be checked at the door as the cause was greater than any individual or band. With so many musicians in the same club sharing the same stage in one night, a vibe existed throughout the establishment of pure positive energy.
Through donations, raffles and ticket sales, more than $6,500 was raised for the Go Big for Hunger foundation. To become involved with the foundation you can visit the Go Big for Hunger page on Facebook.
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