Sorry, Wisconsin, but your winters are brutal. Beautiful as they might be the day after that first snowfall, the rest of the season is, for most, a struggle to stay warm outside. For an unfortunate few, the fight continues indoors, as heat is a luxury they can't afford. That's why, beginning this Saturday, the Madison music community will gather to launch a free concert series called Heat Aid.
Taking place at local record store MadCity Music Exchange three Saturdays in a row -- Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. -- the performances will feature a variety of Madison musicians, with all proceeds going to the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, a statewide nonprofit that helps low-income residents get the heat and air conditioning they need.
Presented by the hosts of local podcast Arts Extract, the concert series was a straightforward way to bring together various cells of the music community while supporting a worthy cause. Scott Gordon (an Isthmus contributor) recruited the series' musicians. The mention of helping needy neighbors rallied several local musicians almost immediately.
"The whole [music] slate is just a testament to the generosity that Madison musicians have when it comes to supporting a good cause," says Arts Extract contributor Mark Riechers.
Featuring a half-dozen performers and various music styles, the lineup includes Dietrich Gosser, The Tiny Band, DB Pedersen, The Brothers Grimm and Spires in the Sunset Rise. Also featured are blues stompers Boo Bradley, who'll kick-start the series.
Boo Bradley's singer, Scott "Boo" Kiker, once received financial support from the Fund himself.
"It made it that much easier for me to help out," he says, recalling how the Fund helped him fill propane tanks with gas to keep warm during a winter in the country. "Winter is a real issue here. I grew up down south, and there you can live through winter without heat. You wouldn't be comfortable, but you could do it. Here, you just can't. It's a life-and-death matter."
The Fund forges community partnerships and relies on the support of private donors as well. They work hard to spend every penny effectively.
"We're very proud of the fact that we keep our administration costs at 5% or less, meaning that every time you donate a dollar, 95 cents of that is going to help somebody literally stay warm," says the Fund's events director, Angela Flickinger.
In other words, Heat Aid attendees can step into a cozy shop filled with good music, and they can leave feeling a bit warmer inside.