It’s a three-way musical attack on hunger in the Berkshires.
With the coronavirus pandemic stifling commerce and concerts, local band The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow wants to help those hardest hit by livestreaming a concert, album recording session and movie production (all at the same time) to benefit a program that provides food to the hungry.
“We’re really proud to lend a hand with that,” frontman Billy Keane said. “The service workers have done their part, so, we want to focus some energy back into the community.”
The event begins at 7 p.m. Saturday for free on the band’s website. The hope is that most viewers will hit the donate button.
The program, Nutrition for All, is an effort set up by the Berkshire Community Action Council in which $50 food boxes are given free to families referred to the program by local nonprofit human services agencies. The household income has to be at or less than 200 percent of the federal income poverty level, or an annual household income of $52,400 for a family of four.
Depending on income levels, qualifying families will receive at least one box each month. Others could receive one box weekly. Distribution will occur every Friday into March at the BCAC offices at 1531 East St. in Pittsfield.
“BCAC is incredibly grateful to The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow for benefiting our organization through their livestreaming event,” said Deb Leonczyk, BCAC executive director. “The funds raised will allow us to expand the amount of families that we are serving in our Nutrition for All food box program. The program’s aim is to target the families who have been hardest hit from the pandemic and to supplement what they can get from the food pantries with a box that includes a considerable amount of produce and meat.”
Keane said that when the pandemic hit, the band recently had released an album and had planned on touring that summer. COVID-19 wiped out those plans.
So, the members were thinking of recording a new album, and then they considered making a movie of the recording session. Now, with livestreaming, they can broadcast the entire process online and turn it into a benefit concert.
“We wanted to relate it all back to the community,” Keane said. “Happily, the band was willing to accept my wacky plan.”
The band added a donate button to its website this week and already has raised more than $4,000 of a $10,000 goal. There also is a donate button at the BCAC website. Donations are ongoing through and after Saturday’s show.
The logistics of recording an album live in one take, while recording the process for a movie, and mixing the sound for the livestream, sound like the stuff of nightmares. But, Keane embraces the challenge.
“It’s a function of my instinctive need to make everything more difficult,” he said. “There are just so many moving parts.”
The band will be recording an album of its members’ favorite cover songs, called “Recovered.” Keane declined to say which songs or artists they will cover.
“You’ll have to watch to find out,” he said.
So, on Saturday night at The Stationery Factory in Dalton, there will be two soundboards, a video crew, a streaming crew and a recording crew, a lighting crew, along with the band and a few friends. All that will be happening, along with social distancing in place and other precautions, such as temperature scanning at the door.
The band members are Keane, Tory Hanna, Greg Smith, Chris Merenda and David Tanklefsky. Also sitting in will be Conor Meehan on drums and Andy Wrba playing the upright bass.
Keane noted that the streaming audience will be able to see the behind-the-scenes action of the movie production and recording crews, and hear the conversations between songs among band members and crew members.
“Folks should tune in for free and, as they’re watching some great entertainment by local creatives hard at work, maybe they put some money in the pot,” Keane said. “People in the Berkshires have a history of helping each other out.”