Ladies of the Valley concert to benefit Family of Woodstock

Amy Helm

Amy Helm

A benefit concert for Family of Woodstock’s Hotline and Walk-in Center will be held on Sunday, November 9 at the Bearsville Theater, featuring an almost-all-women lineup of singer/songwriters who now hail from the upstate region. Ladies of the Valley is their answer to the dire needs of Family’s crisis response program, which includes the organization’s 24-hour emergency Hotline and three Walk-in centers in Woodstock, Ellenville and New Paltz.

“It makes so much sense: ladies helping ladies,” says Simi Stone, music co-coordinator with two-time Grammy nominee Elizabeth Mitchell. “People are so wanting to do this, to get women together to support this branch of Family.”

Simi Stone (photo by Dion Ogust)

Simi Stone (photo by Dion Ogust)

Stone and Mitchell have enrolled a great roster of professional singers that includes Kate Pierson, Amy Helm, Sarah Fimm, Lindsey Webster, Pal Shazar, Donna Lewis, Lisa Green, Olivia Gabriel and Maralina Gabriel. Rising young women from the Paul Green Rock Academy will also be on hand, along with Connor Kennedy and Minstrel. A raffle will be held offering three photographic prints of Janis Joplin by Eliot Landy, a full festival pass to the 2015 Woodstock Writers’ Festival and other items.

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Each singer/songwriter has been asked to perform a song of her own and one by another female artist who has been of particular influence on her music, such as greats like Carole King, Carly Simon and Aretha Franklin. There are vague hints of surprise guests, too: notable music-industry names who might just happen to drop in to join the effort. And that effort is to raise funds specifically to meet Family’s Hotline and Walk-in crisis response program budget, a staggering $500,000 a year in operating costs.

“As a community-based organization, the Hotline is essential to the whole community, and it is underfunded,” says Tamara Cooper, program director at Family. “We just want to continue the program.”

The Hotline and Walk-in Center has been serving the community for more than 40 years. When waves of free-spirited young people made their way to the town of Woodstock many years ago, after hearing about the music festival that, in fact, took place on a now-famous farm 60 miles southwest, they were looking for all the like-minded hippies who also believed in peace and free love: the ones who would welcome them with open arms. For the townspeople, this was a bit of a problem.

“After the concert, people were coming here,” says Susan Goldman, head of Community Outreach. “They were getting off the bus thinking they were going to find the ‘Woodstock Nation.’ And there were people meeting them at the bus, giving them $50 and saying, ‘Go home.’” Others handed out pamphlets headlined “With a Little Help from Your Friends,” telling them where it was okay to camp and so on. Churches got involved by setting up a HELP phone line, and volunteers formed committees to address other ways in which all these young people needed assistance.

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