Sounds of Summer benefit will aid county food banks

DALLAS -- Singer-songwriter Wayne Graber said he would return to the Sounds of Summer stage this year, but he wanted the show to serve the community more than an evening of free music.



DALLAS -- Singer-songwriter Wayne Graber said he would return to the Sounds of Summer stage this year, but he wanted the show to serve the community more than an evening of free music.

He got his wish. The Aug. 20 show featuring Graber's newest band, Graber, Souter and Rupp, will help serve meals to people in need. It will be a community food drive.

With high unemployment and more people struggling to put food on the table, concert series organizer John Swanson said now is a perfect time to add a benefit to the popular summer concert series.

"We are going to put on a nice concert, get people to come out and take care of some people who need help," said Swanson, an economic development specialist in the city of Dallas' department of community development.

Swanson it so dedicated to the idea that his own band, the City Boys, will kick off the concert for Graber, Souter and Rupp.

Sounds of Summer concert series fans may be more familiar with Graber's former band, Faithful Heart. The bluegrass/gospel band played the series for three or four years before breaking up after 30 years playing together. The band played its last show on the Dallas Rotary Performing Arts Stage in 2007.

But Graber just couldn't stop performing.

"I went on my own for a little bit," he said. "I still was writing and performing."

Before long, former bandmates Jim Rupp and Guy Souter joined him for a few concerts.

"It worked out so good that we got together," Graber said.

The threesome plays similar-style music as Faithful Heart. They like playing anywhere, Graber said, but the band has high expectations for the upcoming concert.

"We hope to see a lot of food donated to the food bank," he said.

There is no shortage of need. All Polk County food banks saw an increase in demand for food boxes in the 2007-08 fiscal year. The following fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2009 also had more people seeking assistance. The food bank at the Dallas Seventh-Day Adventist Church handed out 53 percent more boxes than the previous year. Ella Curran Food Bank in Independence actually saw a decrease in the number of boxes, but not the amount of people those boxes fed. The food pantry served about 1,000 more people this year than the year before.

"The unemployment rate is having a huge impact," said Phil McCorkle, Marion-Polk Food Share's vice president of development.

He said not including those in West Salem, food banks in Polk County distributed 500,000 pounds of food last year.

In addition to donations at the concert, drop-off sites for donations have been set up at Van Well Building Supply, Dallas Aquatic Center, Dallas Public Library, Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce, Polk County Community Development Corporation, and Dallas City Hall.

All the food collected during the concert food drive will go to families in Polk County, Swanson said.

The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Dallas Rotary Performing Arts Stage at the corner of Main and Academy streets downtown. The show is free, but people are asked to bring food donations.



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