A&E » Arts

Party to fight poverty

Bands come together on St. Patrick’s Day to raise funds for children in need abroad



What: Bands Against Hunger Benefit

When: Monday, March 17, doors at 8 p.m.

Where: Buffalo Bill’s

Tickets: $10

While many people will be out celebrating the luck of the Irish on Monday evening, some will be putting their green towards a good cause, and a good time.

Kostaman and friends are set to take the stage at Buffalo Bill’s to raise money for an orphanage in Namibia, Africa, and two local organizations — Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) and the Whistler Food Bank.

This isn’t a new event. The Bands Against Hunger Society was created about three years ago, after Kostas Lymbertos, better known around town as Kostaman, and vocalist/band manager, Jana Marie Dupuis, were bombarded with images of child soldiers in Uganda and children suffering after the tsunami.

“During that same week, we saw Born Into Brothels , the story of kids who are born into brothels of Calcutta, and at that point during the film, something clicked and it was the last straw,” Kostaman explained.

They decided it was time to do something, so they created the Bands Against Hunger Society, a non-profit based out of Whistler, which tries to make a difference through artistic collaboration, creating events to raise money and awareness of local and global humanitarian issues. They hold two large events each year, and collect donations from audience members at some regular shows.

Kostaman describes his reggae-influenced music as “positive, conscious and political… all wrapped in a feel-good rhythm,” which certainly fits in well with these fundraising efforts.

But the society isn’t just about raising money — Dupuis and Kostaman hope to raise awareness of issues overseas, and give people an easy way to get involved and help out.

“It was created as a vehicle that local people can jump into and do some good community work and some global work, as well,” said Kostaman.

Dupuis added that there is always a local component to fundraising efforts, because they are working to alleviate stress and pain both within Whistler and abroad.

The money raised from last year’s benefit went to a grassroots organization called TOV, which works to feed and educate children who are living in poverty or who have lost a parent. To foster sustainable, long-term development within their community, TOV workers decided to start their own farm, and that’s where Bands Against Hunger comes in. The money raised through their performances went towards purchasing seeds and other farming equipment, livestock, transportation costs, and food for farm workers.

The band was contacted by the same organization to help out again this year, and is hoping to actually go abroad to help with the work.

  “…We’ve taken it to heart, a little personally, and that’s why we’re considering going,” said Kostaman.

So far, the shows have been a huge hit, selling out every year, and with a stellar lineup of talent from the Sea to Sky corridor and beyond, the reason behind their popularity is no mystery.

This year, the show features a number of popular local acts, including DJ Phroh, who does an electronic version of reggae, Mr. Ray, a beatboxer from South Africa, and Animal Nation, a local hip-hop crew that has helped with the benefits from the very beginning. To top that off, they have Elaine “Lil-bit” Shepherd and LaLaBoomBoom coming up from Vancouver to perform.

The society has also received a lot of local support in promoting and hosting its events, with Buffalo Bill’s presenting Monday’s upcoming benefit.

“We’ve had an amazing amount of people contact us wanting us to volunteer and do anything possible, so people are really eager to be a part of it,” said Kostaman. “…And that’s the exciting thing, that we’re raising money, but we’re also giving people a chance to put in their heart’s work.”