Dusty Strings SING!: Sing-alongs to benefit Solid Ground

Kate Power & Steve Einhorn

Kate Power & Steve Einhorn

When was the last time you participated in a sing-along? Around a campfire? At a service? With your child? With friends? With strangers? Was it an uplifting, collective experience? Or awkward and embarrassing? Lastly, was it for a good cause?

The reason I ask these questions is because I bet 80% of you cannot remember the last time you participated in an informal group singing session. For one full hour. With a bunch of people you don’t know. That was free. But that also asked for donations to help those who need it most: those living in poverty.

The Dusty Strings SING! is an hour-long sing-along open to the public every Wednesday from 12pm-1pm at the Dusty Strings music store located in the Center of the Universe (also known as Fremont, Seattle). The SING is open to the public, all voices are welcome and it is free. However, donations in any denomination are encouraged, all proceeds benefitting Solid Ground.

Kate Power, Music School Director at Dusty Strings and Steve Einhorn, Musical Instructor at the Dusty Strings Music School, who host the SING every week, brought the idea of the Dusty Strings SING! in 2013. However, this is not the original site of their community singing endeavors.

In 1994, Steve and Kate bought Artichoke Music, then a store in Portland, Oregon that sold musical instruments. Inspired by the musical social justice movements of Pete Seeger, they decided to hold events to raise funds to donate to the Sisters of the Road, an agency and café in Portland that provides meals and services for people experiencing homelessness.

“One Pete Seeger concert would teach you a lot about social justice through song,” says Steve. “We were both raised in that generation of songwriters, like Bob Dylan and Peter Paul & Mary, who were singing about civil rights and progressive social issues.” And while those artists contributed to progressive action during their time, Pete really encouraged his audience to sing along and actively participate in what those songs were about. “Seeger was really a great model for ‘we shall overcome’ and [how to] come together with all of those people,” Steve says.

Once they got comfortable in Portland and cultivated some change by connecting with customers on a more private and smaller scale, they wanted to expand that connection to the community. “And we tried to figure out, ‘How can we [give back to the community] in a way that is meaningful?’ ” So they decided to hold concerts every year with a well-known lineup that included a raffle to give away a guitar. They raised $10,000 for every guitar given away, all of which was donated to Sisters of the Road.

Kate says they picked this particular cause “because everyone relates to hunger. Even if you have the money.” She also explains that embracing this type of open format for musical events in a come-as-you-are environment can create meaningful experiences for all participants while giving any afforded proceeds to those who need it most. This being said, it isn’t atypical to hear popular folk singers such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Utah Phillips and the like at any given sing-along. However, the floor is completely open and Kate and Steve take requests for all kinds of music. And all ranges of singing abilities, from those who can’t quite carry a tune to professional harmonizing masters (harmonies are openly encouraged), are invited to attend.

I had the good fortune of attending the most recent SING!, and while Kate and Steve hovered five feet in front of us (a group of about 15), adjusting their acoustic guitar straps and tuning the instruments up just right, Kate mentioned to the group that there’s nothing quite like collective singing. While Steve fiddled with the tuning nobs at the top of his guitar, softly strumming each string, she said sometimes it even brings her to tears. “Music is really how we come together,” Kate says. I couldn’t agree more.

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You can find out more about Kate & Steve’s ongoing musical adventures through their website, Quality Folk.

Where to give to help families, vets and pets

kids & santa hatsThanks to the generosity of people like you, all homeless families enrolled in Solid Ground housing programs have received gift cards and presents for their children through our Adopt-a-Family program. Together, we’ve made this season brighter for more than 250 families and 600 children and adults. At this time, we are no longer accepting holiday gift cards or presents, but we still are accepting donations to help homeless families locate and secure stable housing. Thank you!

In addition, there are a number of other programs accepting donations for families in need this winter. Below is just a sampling of ways that you can help. Please contact the organizations directly to learn more:

Project Share – Help Pay Electric Bills for Families in Need

Sponsored by Seattle City Light, 100% of your gift goes directly to people in need. For more information on Project Share call 206. 684.3000.

Mitzvah Month at Jewish Family Services

December is Mitzvah Month at Jewish Family Services. You can support the Give Hunger a Holiday program, the Jewish Family Services Food Bank, the Family Matters campaign and more.

Holiday Pet Food Drive Seattle Humane Society

Spread holiday cheer by helping to re-stock the shelves of the Seattle Humane Society food bank to help low-income seniors keep their pets. Drop-off barrels are located at Safeway stores and the Seattle Humane Society located in Bellevue.

The United Way of King County

The United Way of King County has compiled a list of 25 holiday programs seeking everything from cooked ham or turkey to pajamas and slippers benefiting veterans, homeless families, domestic violence survivors and more.

The Sharehouse

The Sharehouse makes every day a potential holiday by providing free furniture and household items to help folks moving from homelessness into stable housing. They need donations of good quality used furniture as well as financial support to keep this venerable but underfunded project alive. Each year, more than 75 families from Solid Ground’s JourneyHome program rely on The Sharehouse to help them get settled and stay stable.

The Seattle Foundation

Your gift of any amount will make a difference for families struggling in the aftermath of the recession. Choose from a number of funds to help prevent homelessness and hunger this winter.

Somali Community Services Coalition

Change the lives of refugee families in King County through a cash donation or an in-kind gift of books, computers, office/school supplies and other items to the Somali Community Services Coalition. Contact the Resources Development Coordinator Isaac Fuchs at 206. 431.5141 or isaac@somalicsc.org for more information.

Adopt-a-Refugee Family Program

The Refugee Women’s Alliance  connects sponsors from the community with families who can benefit from some extra support. Once connected, you will work independently with the family you adopt, at a level of personal and financial support that is comfortable for you, to help your adopted family meet their needs and achieve their goals. Contact Shannon Eberhart, Volunteer Coordinator, at 206. 721.0243 or Shannon@rewa.org.

New Beginnings

Download the holiday wish list benefiting mothers and children who are domestic violence survivors. Call 206.783.4520 if you have an idea or to check hours and location.

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