From The Side of the Road… consider these for year end donations

As we close in on the end of December, some choose to make charitable donations before the 31st in order to receive a tax deduction for the past year. Theoretically, they also want to be generous and give to worthy causes. Professional bluegrass musicians are just hoping to meet people who made enough money in the past year to need this kind of tax deduction. Their lives must be so glamorous.

If you’re planning to do some of this year-end giving yourself, are you aware that there are several bluegrass-related charity options that have recently started up? This is a great way to help those who are less fortunate while supporting the music you love. Here are a few of the lesser-known yet worthy organizations you might consider supporting:

Roadside Rescue

This is a group dedicated to helping bluegrass bands who have broken down while en route to a gig, and who need transportation immediately to make their 4:00 p.m. set 200 miles away. After the toll free number is called, a vehicle, or fleet of vehicles is dispatched to the scene to load up the band and their instruments and drive them to their show. Because most bands are barely making enough at these shows even if nothing goes wrong, Roadside Rescue does not charge for this service, though it may in some cases take a percentage of merchandise sales. It also provides financial assistance for the repairs that may be required for their bus or van that was left behind. Bands receiving the service must demonstrate financial need, and are also obligated to discuss bluegrass music with the Roadside Rescue driver for the entire length of the trip.

No Spouse Left Behind

This charity provides a live-in companion for the spouse left behind by a traveling bluegrass musician. The companion can be called on to do domestic chores, handle parental obligations, and even participate in “romantic activities” as required. A review of this service came from Denise Parker of Jackson, MS:

No Spouse Left Behind has changed my home life completely while my husband is away with his band Lonesome Quandary. My substitute companion cooks, does dishes, gets along great with the kids, and is a fantastic kisser. When my husband used to discuss his upcoming tours, I would dread a three-week run, and I told him so; now I encourage him to go out for as long as he needs to. I’m a lot more supportive of the band than I used to be.”

Bluegrass Work Study

Many modern day bluegrass songs cover subjects that most singers and songwriters today have little or no direct experience with, such as moonshining and coal mining. In order to make these songs more authentic, Bluegrass Work Study offers free seminars to needy bluegrass artists that include class study and real life or simulated real life experience in these areas. For example, in the moonshining program, students learn the fine art of distilling their own liquor, building their own still, and hiding their operation from the authorities. Proficiency with the use of a sawed-off shotgun is also taught. During class sessions they will learn the actual meaning of words like “G-men” and “revenuer” so they can sing about them with conviction. Many graduates go on to earn a modest side income in this field to supplement their meager music earnings. Some even go into the lucrative drug trade.

Bridge the Gap

This is an organization that supplements the concert fees for bluegrass artists who do their own booking but who have terrible negotiating skills. Many of these artists habitually make errors like asking for much less than the promoter was already planning to spend, or actually talking a promoter down instead of up. Bridge the Gap steps in and covers the shortfall, contributing up to 20% of what the final price should have been. A demonstration of poor negotiating technique may be required.

Road Food Intervention

Road musicians are known for their poor diet. Often the closest thing resembling something that was actually grown or raised by a farmer is the toppings on a sandwich at Subway. Asking to remain anonymous, one bluegrass musician confessed to having lived for three straight weeks on nothing but black coffee and fried pies. Road Food Intervention meets these musicians while on tour and provides nutritious meals consisting of minimally processed, recognizable food, none of which has been deep-fried, microwaved, packaged in plastic, or all of the above. Menu items include beef, chicken, non-french-fried potatoes, salads, and even green vegetables (a recent survey showed that almost 30% of bluegrass road musicians had never had one of these). The organization’s goal is to provide at least one wholesome meal per month to every needy road musician.

Thank you for your generosity.