Barbara Cassidy and friends to play hunger relief benefit
Proceeds from Sunday's performance to benefit Waltham Fields Community Farm
When the Barbara Cassidy Band celebrates the release of their debut album, “Leaving Things the Way I Found Them,” they’ll do it the Brandeisian way: By bringing the community together to promote hunger relief.
The band, which features the husband-and-wife team of vocalist Barbara Cassidy M.A. ’98 and multi-instrumentalist Eric Chasalow, the Irving G. Fine Professor of Music, will perform at the Slosberg Recital Hall Sunday, Nov. 4, at 3 p.m. with a variety of guests, including Peter Mulvey and Pesky J. Nixon. Proceeds will benefit Waltham Community Farms’ hunger relief efforts.
“Leaving Things the Way I Found Them” includes the first music the couple has created together. While firmly in the folk and Americana traditions, the album draws upon their individual, lifelong explorations in a wide variety of genres – electronic, classical, rock, jazz, folk and cabaret.
“I had been writing folk songs, but I realized my lyrics were terrible. I just couldn’t do it,” says Chasalow, who had given up the endeavor until he and his wife began a partnership in which he writes the music and she the lyrics.
The result is an album of American folk music that includes traditional songs like “Wayfaring Stranger” as well as originals rooted in life lessons and family stories. “Anna’s Song-Shohola 1864” is based on a true Cassidy family story about the famous Great Shohola Train Wreck, which occurred during the Civil War.
Cassidy has been singing all of her life and holds a B.F.A. degree from the Boston Conservatory. Previously the arts projects coordinator at Brandeis, where she also earned a master’s degree in sociology and women’s studies, she and Chasalow are co-curators of the oral history project “The Video Archive of the Electroacoustic Music.”
Chasalow, who has taught at Brandeis and directed the Brandeis Electro Acoustic Music Studios for 23 years, earned a Ph.D. in music composition from Columbia University while studying at the country’s first electronic music studio there. He plays a variety of instruments including guitar, saxophone and flute.
In addition to Cassidy and Chasalow, the band includes a rotating cast of musician friends. Two of the musicians who recorded the album in the studio with them will also join them on stage Sunday: David “Goody” Goodrich, who produced and played a variety of instruments on the album, has worked as a producer and accompanist to artists like Chris Smither, Jeffrey Foucault, and singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey, who will be on hand; and upright bass-player Robert Nieske, who is a Brandeis professor of the practice of music and director of the jazz.
Others joining the fray include drummer Dave Mattacks, violinist Joe Kessler and the Brandeis alum folk group Pesky J. Nixon.
Mattacks played with big bands in the U.K. before joining the folk-rock band Fairport Convention, and has toured and recorded with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Thompson to name just a few. Kessler has performed with Morphine, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant among many others. Pesky J. Nixon, includes guitarist and vocalist Ethan Baird ’02, one of Chasalow’s former students. The band’s latest release, “Red Ducks,” is currently in the Top Ten on the folk charts.
Performing individually and together on Nov. 4, the musicians will contribute to the hunger relief work of the Waltham Fields Community Farm, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995. The farm aims to promote local agriculture and food access through farming and education programs, and supplies fresh vegetables to low-income community members through a variety of programs: an Outreach market, donations to emergency-feeding and nutrition education programs, distribution to the Waltham Public Schools lunch program and half-price Community Supported Agriculture shares. This year, the farm hopes to provide $50,000 worth of produce to relieve hunger.
“Barbara and I have been involved with the farm for a long time and a lot of Brandeis students volunteer there,” Chasalow says. “Barbara grew up in a farming community in western Massachusetts and we both feel strongly about supporting local farming and local food initiatives. We are very pleased to be able to use our music to help the hunger relief programs of Waltham Fields and hope to introduce a few new friends to the important work that they do.”
Tickets are $20 (tax deductible). A limited number of Friend of the Farm tickets will be sold for $40, and include preferred seating and a signed CD. Tickets can be purchased at Brandeis Tickets or by calling (781) 736-3400. A limited number of tickets have been pre-donated on behalf of Brandeis students and will be available on a first come, first served basis at the door.