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The Arts

One for the kids

Local musicians play benefit for KidsPLAYce

“Let’s Grow! A Musical Spectacular to Benefit KidsPLAYce,” takes place April 25, at 7 p.m., at Headroom Stages at 17 Elliot St. in Brattleboro. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance/$18 at the door, and can be purchased at KidsPLAYce and Specially-priced family tickets can be purchased for $25 by calling KidsPLAYce at 802-254-5212.

BRATTLEBORO—“Let’s Grow! A Musical Spectacular to Benefit KidsPLAYce” invites all kids, big and little, to a multi-media party at Brattleboro’s Headroom Stages on Saturday, April 25.

Michelle Mahin, interim development director, says proceeds from the show will support summer hours at KidsPLAYce.

“This is new. We’ve never had summer hours because our budget didn’t allow for it, but members have expressed interest,” Mahin says.

KidsPLAYce, the “indoor children’s discovery center” located downstairs from Hotel Pharmacy on Elliot Street in Brattleboro, plans to offer one or two days of regular hours.

“We’re still working on the exact schedule,” Mahin says, adding, “then there will be ‘pop-up’ hours facilitated by volunteers.” She reminds members that KidsPLAYce’s regular season ends on May 30, and recommends caregivers keep an eye on the space’s Facebook page for updates.

The night of the benefit, doors open at 6:30 p.m., and at 6:45 p.m., Bonnyvale Environment Education Center presents “a musical rendition” of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax,” followed by musical performances by Peter Siegel, John and Jason of Jatoba, Bayou X, and Hannah Hoffman.

Hoffman, who also serves as administrative coordinator for KidsPLAYce, says she booked an additional act since printing up the posters: Phoenix, “a 12-year-old boy who you might have seen playing guitar on the street,” will perform his original songs.

New Orleans native Peter Simoneaux’s Lil’ Orphans (a.k.a.Bayou X) will close the show with a dance party featuring what Simoneaux bills “a mix of traditional Louisiana Cajun/Creole music, and our own original Afro-Caribbean-Creole influenced tunes."

“KidsPLAYce was an incubator for our brass band, Celebration Brass Band,” Simoneaux says. “We went for a long time having practices there every Monday night, probably about four years running. Tim Ellis, our sousaphone player, was a founder of KidsPLAYce. We still practice there from time to time.”

Hoffman attributes her ties with the local music scene and its fans — “I used to run the Open Mic at Metropolis,” she says — as fertile ground for pulling in other musicians to help out.

But, Hoffman and Mahin credit Siegel, educator and member of the band The Gaslight Tinkers, with inspiring the show.

“Peter Siegel has expressed for years he’d like to do a benefit concert for KidsPLAYce,” Mahin says, “and we felt it was finally time."

“KidsPLAYce has been important to me for so many reasons,” Siegel says, explaining, “as a parent I utilized the space so many times. Kids are the most important thing in the world to me. Fostering environments that are kid friendly are essential to any community. KidsPLAYce has been that anchor for young families for years."

Jatoba’s Jason Scaggs (who will appear with bandmate John Jamison) says the decision to donate his time and talent to benefit KidsPLAYce was an easy one: “I have been going to Kids PLAYce for awhile now. I have three kids at home, so I’m in full support for creating a space just for them."

Scaggs says attendees at “Let It Grow!” can expect a “kind of a newgrass/folk and occasionally dissonant” performance, but he adds, “anything can happen with guitars, a mandolin, banjo, and beatboxing."

Other members of the community have stepped up to help. “Hazel is matching up to $700 of donations collected at the show,” Mahin says, adding the restaurant is also donating $300 of their food and beverage proceeds collected the night of the event. “Hazel really wants to give $1,000 to KidsPLAYce!” she says.

Headroom Stages’s owner and director, Aaron Chesley, offered to host the event at his venue.

“I’ve known Aaron from the musical community for a long time,” Hoffman says. “He agreed to donate the space."

Beadniks has also gotten in on the act, but in a different way.

Area residents may have noticed the sudden proliferation of what Mahin calls “magnificent giant pinwheels” poked into lawns and flower boxes around downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods. Those are part of KidsPLAYce’s “A Thousand Pinwheels” project to celebrate April as “The Month of the Young Child.”

For $10, participants can take home a two-and-a-half-foot tall pinwheel — which Mahin sourced from Beadniks —€• to show their support for KidsPLAYce.

“It felt like, everybody loves KidsPLAYce, but they didn’t have a way to show it,” Mahin says.

But, when one day she saw the pinwheels at Beadniks, Mahin says she immediately envisioned a fundraising and awareness-raising opportunity.

The idea has caught on.

“I just ordered another 300 pinwheels, and 700 have gone out into the community, and beyond,” Mahin adds, noting her mother in California has a handful, as does Hoffman’s mother, who lives about an hour north in New Hampshire.

Mahin encourages pinwheel recipients to “share pictures on Facebook!” and for those who feel left out, she notes they can purchase the pinwheels at Beadniks, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, KidsPLAYce, and at the benefit concert on April 25.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #302 (Wednesday, April 22, 2015). This story appeared on page B1.

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