Weekly Feature

2017-05-18 / Local News

Buffalo Blues project comes to Depew

by AMY ROBB Editor

The Buffalo Blues Benefit for Veterans is making its way to Depew via the Transit Music Lounge.

The concert kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20, with local bands Wanted by the FBI, Playing with Monsters, Impact, PA Line and Koobs Trio, featuring Justin Kubiak.

Shawn Shearer, owner of the Transit Music Lounge, worked with Buffalo Blues’ Rick Suto to put the event together.

The music campaign has already raised nearly $7,500 to help veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“It’s really neighborhood focused. Everyone has their own local, neighborhood appeal,” said Bob James, the project’s director.

“This is the seventh in a series that kicked off last November, under the idea of using music to raise money for veterans that need housing help. The homeless veterans issue is something that I’ve been interested in, and that was kind of the launch of it.”

James, an inductee of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame who has worked with Music is Art and the Food Bank of WNY, found that blues made sense for a campaign to help veterans.

“Blues is the music that reaches out to people that may be struggling; it lifts them up. That’s the whole nature of blues, it goes back to gospel and early American style music,” said James.

“We found, we really discovered in this [campaign] that veterans love the blues. There’s something about the blues music and veterans that makes a natural connection.”

Buffalo Blues has transformed from a simple request to an effort that connects an entire region through music and a common goal.

“The initial idea for this was very different than what it became. A friend of a friend asked me to put together a CD to help raise funds for a homeless shelter,” added James about the campaign’s start.

The grassroots organization sells CDs and coordinates concerts in Western New York, with proceeds going to the Veterans Housing Coalition, which serves more than 15,000 veterans with basic needs.

“A lot of these are some top names in Western New York, blues and all that. Some of the artists that do our events have been on the benefit CD. This is how we’re going to raise money at Shawn’s place, at the door, T-shirts and that kind of thing,” said James.

The project doesn’t accept donations, preferring to provide a service.

“If you want to give $10 to the project, you’re going to go home with something. It’s really doing something for others that is built on existing resources that are just being used in a different way,” said James.

“To me, this is an innovative way to use what’s already here, just in a different way so it provides more for other people in WNY.”

The Transit Music Lounge is located at 4723 Transit Road in Depew.

Visit BuffaloBlues.org or visit “Buffalo Blues” on Facebook to learn more about the campaign.

For information about the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition, visit www.WNYVHC.org.

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