Sunday, April 24, 2011

“Giving Hunger The Blues” Block Party Rocks Sarasota

By Ray Shasho

Thousands of people flocked onto Hillview Street in Sarasota on Sunday afternoon for the 16th Annual “Giving Hunger the Blues” Block Party. The focus of the event was to raise money to feed, nurture and protect the children of the community. In Sarasota County alone, one out of ten neighbors combat hunger every day and of those… 33% are children.

“Giving Hunger The Blues” began in 1996 and has grown to become the All Faiths Food Bank’s biggest one day fundraiser, having contributed, to date, over eight hundred thousand dollars.

It was a magnificent all day event that included mostly fun under a beautiful Florida sunshine. The climax was a phenomenal stage performance by two of rock and roll’s finest musicians.

First, Floridian Larry Hoppen graced the stage. Hoppen is the co-founder and voice of the Classic Pop band Orleans. His brother Lane Hoppen was also on stage to play keyboards. Hoppen and his band immediately allured the Sarasota crowd into a festive frenzy by playing the 1975- Top40 hit “Dance with me.”
Later Hoppen enticed the crowd with several hits including the 1979- “Love takes time” and “Dancing in the Moonlight” a song written by Sherman Kelly (brother of Orleans late original drummer Wells Kelly) in 1969 and then turned into a huge hit by the group King Harvest in 1973. Larry Hoppen was in the band Boffalongo with Sherman Kelly before forming Orleans. But when Larry Hoppen brought out the headliner for the evening (who played his entire performance on stage with Hoppen and his band) the crowd went absolutely wild!

John Cafferty (Beaver Brown Band) darted out from behind the stage with one simple goal in mind- TO ROCK THE HOUSE DOWN! Cafferty shot out like a missile and initiated a dynamic performance of “On the Dark Side” from the soundtrack of the 1983 movie “Eddie and the Cruisers.”

Cafferty looked and sounded remarkable, and he was somewhat reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen. His hard driven- upbeat rock & roll anthems from the soundtrack had the Sarasota crowd dancing as if they were being televised on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Everyone celebrated the return of Eddie Wilson.

Cafferty joked about being asked by Sylvester Stallone to write the soundtrack for his movie Cobra, recalling that it was one of Stallones least popular films. Then Cafferty asked the Sarasota crowd to remember our troops and began to sing “Voice of America's Sons” from Cobra. John Cafferty also performed “Hearts on Fire” from the Rocky IV soundtrack.

The evening ended with Larry Hoppen and his band performing the Orleans 1976 mega-hit “Still the One.”

It was a wonderful day with a tremendous outpouring of enthusiastic music lovers supporting an urgent cause.

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