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Love concert feeds the needy

Greg Tasker
The Detroit News

If Valentine’s Day didn’t meet your romantic expectations, a benefit concert Saturday at The Ark in Ann Arbor might just be the antidote — at least musically.

Dubbed “The Love Hangover,” this year’s event features Michigan-based musicians who will take the stage at the iconic venue to sing songs about love — romantic love, unrequited love, jealous love — even murder.

“Because the concert is around Valentine’s, we came up with the concept of ‘The Love Hangover,’ ” says Jim Cain, organizer of the annual concert to benefit the Breakfast Program at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor. “Love songs are the most universal type of music. ‘The Love Hangover’ theme gives the artist an incredible opportunity to mine their own catalog or play their favorite covers, to play something that taps into some pretty powerful emotions.”

The theme is borrowed from an annual musical event that began in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2009, and has since expanded to cities across the United States and Canada.

In Ann Arbor, the performers include The Flutter and Wow, a band that has received multiple Detroit Music Awards nominations, including Best Folk Band; The Whiskey Charmers, who were named one of the 15 best new bands in Detroit by Metro Times in 2015; Plain Jane Glory, a husband-and-wife duo from west Michigan; and the Rev. Dr. Lisa Tucker-Gray, a former lounge singer who has longtime ties to the Breakfast Program.

“I’ll be dusting off my guitar and getting back to my acoustic roots,” says Tucker-Gray, who is the senior priest at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Plymouth and still does Cabaret gigs from time to time. “The songs will span the range of emotions experienced when love is involved from the futility of trying to make someone love you to the euphoria of love taking your breath away and some of the other emotional twists and turns along the way.”

While the concert offers three hours of live music at a reasonable price, organizer Cain says “the broader issue of hunger and homelessness that we try to address remains compelling — even in Ann Arbor and even as the economy recovers.”

Begun in 1982, during one of the region’s worst economic downturns, the Breakfast Program has continued to serve a free, hot breakfast every morning since, not even missing a day for inclement weather, the 2003 blackout, or the recession of a few years ago. Run separately from the church, the program serves between 90 and 150 meals a day. More than 100 volunteers help out on a regular basis.

The annual concert was created during the Great Recession.

“Some of our public support went away, and there was belt-tightening at every level, so we had to come up with some fundraising ideas,” says Cain, who lives in nearby Saline and is a public relations executive for Chevrolet.

Always interested in music, Cain thought a concert might be the way to raise money and take advantage of the community support for the arts in Ann Arbor.

The first concert, in 2010, garnered an “enthusiastic response” and “an incredibly variety of talent,” he says, noting the theme has been and remains the roots and branches of American music, which allows musicians to explore the blues, bluegrass, traditional Irish and Scottish, folk, country and roots rock ‘n’ roll.

Now in its eighth year, the benefit concert has raised more than $65,000 to date, and Cain is hopeful the total will reach $75,000 to $80,000 after Saturday’s concert.

“We had no idea what we were doing the first time, but it’s worked out pretty well,” he says.

Greg Tasker is a Michigan-based freelance writer.

‘The Love Hangover’

A benefit for Breakfast at St. Andrews

7:30 p.m. Saturday

The Ark

316 S. Main

Ann Arbor

$30

(734) 761-1800

theark.org