Love Rocks NYC benefit to help meet rising demand for meals
NEW YORK (AP) — The War and Treaty’s Michael Trotter never really considered missing the chance to perform at the Love Rocks NYC 2023 benefit for God’s Love We Deliver on Thursday, even though he was knocked unconscious and broke his leg in a fall onstage in Nashville last week.
“I got a rock and roll story out of it,” he told The Associated Press, as he shared a laugh with his wife and bandmate Tanya Trotter. “How many artists can say that they broke their fibula on the Ryman (Auditorium) stage doing a rock and roll song by Joan Jett called ‘I Hate Myself for Loving You’?”
The up-and-coming Americana duo, whose major label debut “Lover’s Game” arrives in stores Friday, looks forward to sharing that story at the star-studded benefit with comedian Chevy Chase, who knows a thing or two about onstage falls himself.
“Just to be in that lineup and even have your name on a flyer in any event like that,” says Tanya Trotter, considering sharing the stage Thursday night at the Beacon Theatre in New York with James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples and Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, “it’s always humbling and surreal at the same time.”
Michael Trotter added that it’s the ability to be of service as performers to an important cause that makes the night so special. And David Ludwigson, God’s Love We Deliver’s president and CEO, says the funds raised by the Love Rocks NYC benefit to feed New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses are intensely needed this year.
“The demand for our services is really through the roof,” said Ludwigson. In the first six months of this fiscal year, the New York charity has delivered 33% more meals than the same period last year, which means it will need to fund about 1 million more meals. That issue is compounded by its costs rising more than 30% due to inflation, especially higher food prices.
Ludwigson said the same strain God’s Love We Deliver faces to provide food is one its clients also face – creating an increasingly problematic cycle of need. On March 1, the federal government ended the increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Ludwigson said could further increase demand for the charity’s services.
“It’s kind of a never-ending battle,” Ludwigson said. “There’s not a lot of government money for our work. Two-thirds of our annual budget comes through private fundraising. So as we continue to grow, especially at a clip like 33% a year, it does put more and more pressure on fundraising to keep up.”
That’s what makes events like Love Rocks NYC so important to the charity, which looks at fundraising in terms of meals, not dollars. Major sponsorships generate 50,000 meals, or $500,000. Those who want to watch the livestream of the event -- which will also include appearances by comedians Stephen Colbert, Phoebe Robinson and Neil Patrick Harris -- are asked to donate at least two meals, or $20.
Greg Williamson, real estate broker at Douglas Elliman and a co-executive producer of Love Rocks NYC, said they added the livestream because of the pandemic, but have decided to keep it because it gets more people a chance to be part of the event.
“This show could sell out Madison Square Garden, but we want to try and keep it intimate,” he said. “But so many people want to see it and need to see it. We are using music to heal -- to fund these meals to save lives. It is a remarkable thing and we want to spread it all over the world so people know what’s going on here. And maybe we can be an example for others.”
Love Rocks NYC is also gaining a reputation for bringing artists back together, with this year’s reunion of the John Mayer Trio for the first time since 2017 as a prime example.
Williamson said the hardest part of creating the lineup isn’t convincing artists to be part of the event, now in its seventh year. It’s having them find room in their schedules.
Landing James Taylor early on helped with that. “He’s obviously a very philanthropic person and loves this type of thing,” Williamson said. “Once you’re lucky enough to lock in one of these major artists early, the rest tend to fall into place.”
For The War and Treaty, they were thrilled to be able to perform at the benefit again once they saw the work that God’s Love We Deliver does.
“Is there anything better in life than feeding the hungry or just letting someone know that you care?” Michael Trotter said. “We’ve all been in positions where we needed a little bite to eat. I know it may not look like it when you look at me, but I’ve starved a couple of days, too.” _____
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Glenn Gamboa, The Associated Press