Poverty Is Real: Using music to change people’s lives

poverty is real

There will be a music happening at Eddie’s Attic June 14-16, 2013.   It’s the third annual Poverty is Real concert series featuring album releases by Caroline Herring and Matthew Mayfield, a performance by Nashville’s Bobby Bare, Jr., and a Bob Dylan Celebration called “Shelter from the Storm,” where musicians will be covering your favorite Dylan tunes.    For the complete lineup and times, click here.  Eddies Attic is the premier listening room in the Southeast and Lenz Marketing will be the presenting sponsor.

Eddies Attic PIR

So what is Poverty is Real (PIR)?    It’s the creation of Decatur resident Mike Killeen, who works days at Lenz,  and is also a talented singer/guitar player/songwriter and fixture on the Decatur music scene.   Mike launched PIR back in the spring of 2011 with a concert at Eddies Attic.

mike killeenMike Killeen in the studio

Mike was born and raised in Athens, and graduated from the University of Georgia.    Athens regularly shows up in top city lists for college towns, music scenes, business and career opportunities and Kiplinger ranked it one of the best cities in the country.   But growing up in Athens, Mike is aware there is another side.    Athens is located in a poor county, and based on recent Census data, Athens is listed in the top 25 most unequal cities (Athens is #11) based on the percentage of income garnered by the top quintile of its population.    One quarter of its children live in poverty and the graduation rate is 13% below the state average.

Poverty is Real operates under 3 basic premises:

  1. Poverty is the root cause of most of our social and economic problems associated with crime, lack of education, health issues, quality of life, and the stability of families.
  2. Poverty is not something that’s high on the radar for a lot of people.   (I had no idea about the Athens environment until Mike enlightened me. )
  3. There are things we can do at the local level to alleviate poverty which is the focus for Poverty is Real.

Poverty Is Real  is one part concert promoter, one part community organizer.   Through collaboration with musicians and the business community, PIR puts on music concerts to raise money for a local charity and raise consciousness about poverty in the community.    Local sponsors are secured to pay for the expenses of putting on the concert and musicians are booked to perform at the event.    100% of the concert proceeds go to a single local charity that has been carefully selected by the PIR board.

PIR Nashville

PIR’s first concert was held at Eddies Attic in Decatur and featured 10 bands over a two day period in June of 2011.   Last year’s event at Eddies Attic raised $10,000 and all the proceeds went to the Decatur Cooperative Ministry which has been combating poverty in Decatur since 1969 through a variety of effective programs.     It includes providing emergency shelter for women with children, long term transitional housing for families  with children, bill payment to prevent eviction, forclosure, or utility cut-off, and food for households at risk of hunger.   They also work to end veteran homelessness, which is particularly timely after our community recently celebrated Memorial Day.   It’s our hope that this year’s 3 day concert at Eddies Attic will raise even more money for this worthy organization.

What started in Decatur in 2011 has now grown to concerts organized by PIR in Athens, Ashville, Nashville, Charlottesville, and Suwanee (with more cities to come).    PIR has obtained 501(c)(3) status, meaning any donations are eligible for federal tax deductions.    Their website includes a newsletter, sponsor list, charities supported, upcoming events,merchandise (CDs and T-shirts) you can purchase, and ways to get involved in this incredible grass roots organization.

PIR Album 2pir-shirt

The beauty of this approach is the partnership between local businesses, local musicians and local charities, who make a difference in people’s lives.   PIR’s mission is to fight poverty one community at a time.   What PIR is doing is very much in the Keep It Indie-Catur theme with local resources, assets, and accountability.   Poverty Is Real deserves national recognition as a model for what works.    So come on out Decatur to hear some great music at Eddies June 14-16 for a great cause!

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5 Responses to Poverty Is Real: Using music to change people’s lives

  1. mrssaba says:

    Hey there Bill. Wouldn’t I love to hear those Dylan covers! & Thanks for spreading the good word.

  2. Pat says:

    It starts on my birthday, would love to attend.

  3. billflad says:

    Yeah, Bob Dylan . . . Pat you probably cut his hair in Hallandale in 1967 (after Walter Cronkite) and changed him over to the electric guitar. Thanks Carol and Pat for posting.

  4. Jim says:

    It’s interesting to read those stats about Athens. Outsiders like me only see the stadium and campus on Fall Saturdays and it looks nothing but idyllic. Very similar to South Bend in respects, I assume. Do they have much town/gown problems? I assume as much with the inequity.

    • billflad says:

      Yeah James, I was shocked too for the same reasons. But Mike K grew up there and knows the area well. I verified with the census data and it’s true. Like Mike said to me, poverty is largely invisible to a lot of us. We don’t like to talk about it. He’s using music to bridge the gap and bring awareness and $. We just had a great 3 day event in Decatur last weekend to support PIR. I couldn’t be more impressed by the musicians that gave their time and our venue (Eddies Attic) in Decatur to host a blow out event. Wish you were here to see it.

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