Not long ago there was a sensational Tuesday night down at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica, which holds the distinction of being the oldest blues club in Los Angeles. Blues legend Coco Montoya, formerly of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, came out and joined the Tuesday night residency band on stage as a surprise special guest. What makes the night unique and significant is that Coco Montoya did this for the second time in a month to help raise awareness for feeding the hungry, and teaching foster children music. And after playing the event two times, he said he’ll be coming back for more.
Tuesday nights are called “Service Your Soul” at Harvelle’s, and all of the proceeds of the door as well as a portion of specialty drink sales directly benefit these causes. It’s not about the club, and it’s not about the band hosting the night. Coco Montoya realizes this, and recognizes it’s about giving back and helping people that really need it. With his help, the Tuesday night residency had its biggest nights of the year, creating the most amount of cover charges gathered in one night to help feed hungry children, hungry homeless people, and inspire children that have no home and no parents to get excited about music.
“Harvelle’s is one of the most amazing places in town,” says Vintage Trouble guitarist Nalle Colt, fresh off a tour opening for The Rolling Stones and playing with The Who. “It’s one of the only places that’s been there as long as it’s been there that has kept almost the same vibe as when it was originally created. I mean, you walk into Harvelle’s, and it kind of, just feels cool for us, which is why we were so excited to have our first residency there.”
“It helps the homeless, they bring in money and it goes to them. I think it’s an amazing gig.”
Coco’s efforts are the seed of true change, but it can’t just be up to Coco Montoya, or one blues or blues/rock star. “Service Your Soul” has confirmation from some other notable blues and blues-based rock and roll artists that are intending on joining the band on stage as well to help raise awareness. The great Eric Sardinas came out a couple of weeks ago and sat in, creating a huge night for the residency. Phil Gates jammed the week before that. Walter Trout, Coco Montoya’s former bandmate in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, former member of Canned Heat, and acclaimed solo artist, has also promised to come out.
“Service Your Soul” leaves an open invitation to any professional blues and blues-based rock and roll artists that are in Los Angeles, visiting Los Angeles, or touring Los Angeles to come by and jam to help raise awareness for the initiatives and causes on any and all Tuesday nights. The most significant core of blues music is about the hard times, when it seems like circumstances are impossible to overcome. A true bluesman speaks to the people, as blues crosses barriers and is the music of the people that everyone can relate to. Blues is all about compassion, and is the only music that all people can connect through. We can create the change. We can make the difference. Every person helped by these initiatives is significant because it means a life has been touched, and means that change has been created together to in turn pay it forward once again. People helping people, helping people, helping people.
Every Tuesday night at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica, Special Guest Blues Artists and the house band Hunter & The Dirty Jacks join together to play music to feed the hungry and teach foster children music through the 501c3 charities Feed Your Soul and The Magic Music Foundation. The cover charge is $5 or 2 cans of food. For every person that comes out and pays a $5 cover, a hungry child or hungry homeless person is provided approximately two meals (or more). Proceeds are also utilized weekly to set up music programs for a foster home in Los Angeles to donate instruments and teach foster children music. Exactly 100% of the proceeds of the door go to the charities, and exactly 100% of the charity proceeds directly are utilized to helping the causes. The success of the residency hinges solely on how many people show up on any given night, because the amount of $5 covers collected that night directly correlates to how many people can be helped. There is also a specialty drink that has a portion donated to the charities as well. The band goes down to the shelters themselves regularly, pays for the food, cooks the food, serves it to the hungry, and plays an acoustic set for them. The band teaches the foster children the blues themselves. There have been several thousand people going hungry that have been fed so far during this residency. There have also been music programs set up at a foster home in Los Angeles to teach children music. The gratitude is very significant to the people that attend every week for the positive changes that everyone is rising up and working together to create.
However, in addition to these initiatives, the residency is starting to branch out as well into other causes. For instance, one week, enough money was raised to replace a homeless man’s iPod that was stolen from him. This man has brain trauma from a motorcycle accident, and saved up enough money over many months to buy this iPod, of which rock and blues was all that could get him through the night. The patrons of the residency rose up when they heard this story, and all donated a couple of dollars apiece to replace this for him, the band got his songs back on it, and then put songs on there that they enjoy and that also inspire them. The new iPod was given to this man as a surprise on, coincidentally, his 46th birthday.
There was a foster child who turned 18, ran out of foster care, and got pregnant. She was going out on the street. The residency raised enough money to get her a deposit on a government-assisted apartment. She now has a home (her first home on her own) with her baby, courtesy of the residency, the charities, and the people that come out every week to attend.
The residency is also planning to work with a new charity to have a night where children with a cleft palate have money raised ($240/procedure) so surgery can be performed. Children with cleft palates in developing countries can’t eat or speak properly, nor smile. They also can’t go to school, or get jobs later in life. With this surgery, the child can smile, laugh, and have a normal life. Their lives change forever.
“We must be the change we want to see in this world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
For artists interested in participating, or for any questions and more information, please contact [email protected] and 714.206.5720.