John Huie equates the upcoming “Come Together” benefit concert to that of a musical potluck.
The description is fitting.
On April 5, six Lehigh Valley performers will share the stage of Godfrey Daniels for an intimate evening of music that will stretch and intertwine genres in the name of tolerance and acceptance.
The lineup features Huie, singer-songwriter Michael Duck (a.k.a. Not for Coltrane), folk musician Dave Fry, blues singer Bev Conklin, singer Alyssa Allen, and renowned bassist Bakithi Kumalo (best known for his work with Paul Simon).
“I’m looking forward to the spontaneity fo jamming with musicians in a style that has a form to it, but it’s not free(-form) jazz… It’s fun to be on your toes throughout the night,” Huie said Tuesday during a phone interview.
Proceeds from the “Come Together” show will benefit the Anti-Defamation League’s Philadelphia office to support its “No Place for Hate” program in participating Pennsylvania schools. “No Place for Hate” is a 20-year-old anti-bullying initiative of the Anti-Defamation League that's used in more than 1,600 schools across the United States.
The evening will include a discussion led by Jack Silva, Bethlehem Area School District's assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, about how Bethlehem schools use the “No Place for Hate” program.
Huie, a pianist and percussionist, said he enjoys finding the groove of a song and mashing together rhythms from around the world — whether it’s infusing bagpipes into traditional African music or remixing the song “I Have a Little Dreidel”as a calypso tune. “I love finding that pocket in the performance,” Huie said.
Influenced by the music of Stevie Wonder and the horn lines of Kool and the Gang, Huie has brought his brought his funk influence to his work with the group Soul Kitchen and by playing music with his local church group.
In his roles as a teacher and director of the World Percussion Ensemble at Northeast Middle School in Bethlehem, Huie said the “Come Together” concert hits close to home.
“I love performing and what’s cool is to be a part of something like theme of the No Place for Hate (program). I see students that deal with bullying and stuff like that, so it’s cool to be a part of (‘Come Together’).”
Allen echoed Huie’s sentiments. “I love the theme of coming together and bringing everybody’s personal music to be shared,” she said. “It’s a really beautiful thing to have (a group) of musicians sharing a song that’s personal to them for one reason or another.”
Formerly of the group Soul Folks, Allen currently lends her voice and mandolin skills to local music ensemble Jakopa’s Punch. Allen, an apprentice and teaching artist at Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem, recently formed a bossanova outfit, Rio Bossa; the group will perform 8 p.m. Friday at Black & Blue in Easton.
“My favorite part of being a part of ‘Come Together’ is working with fellow musicians I don’t get a chance to work with, especially getting everyone in the same room, which doesn’t happen often. It’s really rare that we get so many musicians together and I think it’s great,” Allen said. “Everybody that comes to (Godfrey Daniels), goes there to listen, which is really magical.”
Those who will not be able to attend the “Come Together” event will still be able to catch the show. Those who donate at least $5 to the “Come Together” GoFundMe campaign will receive information about how watch a live webcast of the performance. Other thank-you gifts are available.
“Come Together” will take place 7 p.m. April 5 at Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem. There will be a $10 suggested donation at the door. Admission is free for students. Reservations can be made through Godfrey Daniels’ website.
“Come Together” is presented as part of the SouthSide Arts District “First Friday” concert series, and is supported by additional community sponsors, including Freestone Productions, Webfoot Digital, Working Dog Press, Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub, and DustinSchoof.com.