The Stratford/Perth Shelterlink fundraiser is back for its 29th straight year this Monday at Knox Presbyterian Church in Stratford.
Stratford musicians from way back are set to join a few newer faces from the city’s music scene this Monday for the Stratford/Perth Shelterlink’s 29th annual Black Swan Coffee House Revival fundraising concert.
Established in 1961 by Harry Finlay, the Black Swan Coffee House was the place to be in Stratford to listen to folk music, poetry, and dramatic readings throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Since the 1990s, a group of musicians who played at the coffee house back in the day, including the Perth County Conspiracy’s Cedric Smith, Terry Jones and David Woodhead, as well as musicians Brent Titcomb, David “Jeremy” Balser and others, began reuniting in Stratford annually, both in honour of the coffee house and to benefit Stratford/Perth Shelterlink.
“Shelterlink has existed for 29 years, and for 29 years this group of individuals who originally played at the Black Swan Coffee House … they got together once a year and they would put on this concert. They would all spend time together, and then they would give the proceeds to Shelterlink,” said Bev Hagedorn, executive director of the organization that helps Perth County youths aged 16 to 24 who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless by providing them with shelter, advocacy services and basic needs.
While Finlay himself used to act as artistic director for the annual concert, Stratford singer-songwriter Dayna Manning has taken over that role in recent years. And while she won’t performing herself, she has lined up an exciting group of original coffee house performers and local up-and-comers for this year’s show at Knox Presbyterian Church.
“It’s a community show that supports a charity that is so important for the community, and I just think that it should promote community artists as well,” Manning said. “And I think there needs to be a strong, female showing. I don’t want to present a lineup of all men.”
This year’s returning coffee-house favourites include Titcomb, Woodhead, Jones and Balser, but the lineup will also include 2017 Stratford Star winner Emma Rouse, St. Marys musician and owner of DeepWater Music Studio Steph Martin, and two of Manning’s students, Lauren Neilson and MadeNell.
As they have in past years, each of the musicians has offered to donate their time and talents in support of Shelterlink, which means 100 per cent of the proceeds can go back to helping homeless and at-risk youth in the community.
“It’s from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on a Monday night. What else are you doing?” Hagedorn laughed. “It’s a good way to spend a Monday evening, the coffee and the desserts are phenomenal, and also Shelterlink desperately needs the funds.
“We really do. We rely on them.”
For more information, call Shelterlink at 519-272-2294, or email Ann Vaters, the woman who has taken on the bulk of the organizational work for this year’s concert, at email@example.com. Tickets are also available at the United Way Perth-Huron, Long & McQuade, Gentle Rain, and Treasures in Stratford.