CitySong

The popular Give-A-Jam to End Homelessness is now in its 6th year and once again at The Clifton Center on December 20, 2016. We talked with organizer John Harris about the history of the event and what to expect this year.

What’s your role with Give-A-Jam and how did you get involved?
I started the event in 2011 with my wife, Natalie Harris, who is the director of the Coalition for the Homeless. At the time, I was the director of the Clifton Center. After we moved to Louisville and began working at the Clifton Center, it didn’t take long to realize how many great local musicians there are here, and how generous and supportive of their community they are. So it just seemed like a natural.

I remember when we were first conceiving of the idea, we knew having a big lineup of great music would be a huge selling point. But we thought we needed just one more thing. Then it came to us. SOUP! I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of listening to great music and eating soup from some of Louisville’s best restaurants on a cold December day?

The rest is history. Thanks to an incredibly generous group of musicians and chefs, not to mention the sound and lighting folks, graphic designers, printers, volunteer, and everyone else who contributes, it’s been a great experience, and very helpful to the Coalition’s efforts to end homelessness.

Who does Give-A-Jam benefit and how?
The Give-A-Jam benefits the Coalition for the Homeless, a local non-profit that works with its many institutional partners to combat homelessness. Specifically, the Give-A-Jam supports the Rx:Housing program, which is designed to identify Louisville’s most vulnerable homeless people and to help them get into stable housing, which then allows them to get whatever other help they need, whether it’s employment assistance, drug abuse treatment, mental health services, or whatever. The program has been very, very effective, and has played an important role in reducing the number of chronically homeless people in Louisville by 66% since 2011.

How did this event get started?
In our living room. Sitting in front of the fireplace. I remember that we had talked about it over and over and, finally, it came down to just making the decision to go for it. In the first year, I think we only committed to it about six weeks before it happened. It was a huge leap of faith, but we weren’t disappointed!

Who’s on the bill and will there be food and drink at this event?
We have a great lineup, as always. John Gage, Appalatin, Small Time Napoleon, Bluegrass Meets Jazz (featuring Michael Cleveland, Craig Wagner, Steve Cooley, Danny Kiely, and Stephen Couch), Tyrone Cotton, Billy Goat Strut Revue, Relic (featuring the Bibelhauser Brothers), Tanita Gaines, and Hound of the Buskervilles.

We’ll have soups from Buck’s, Jack Fry’s, Shady Lane Cafe, Volare, Crave Cafe, Upton Cafe, Lilly’s Bistro, and the Irish Rover. We’ll also have a cash bar.

Where can people find more information?
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door (tickets include admission plus $10 worth of food/drink tickets) and can be purchased here or at Carmichael’s Bookstore on Frankfort Avenue.

More information is also available at louhomeless.org or cliftoncenter.org.