Bill Kirchen to play at Habitat for Humanity benefit in Shirley

Margaret Smith

Bill Kirchen will join local acts in Shirley to give new meaning to the tag, “house band.”

They’re ready to make a whole lotta noise Saturday for Habitat for Humanity at Shirley Fest, a day-long benefit show to raise funds to build the first Habitat for Humanity home in town.

“We did a past concert with Maria von Trapp…this is the first major event we’ve done,” said Michael Swanton, a Shirley Fest organizer and a member of the Habitat for Humanity partnership committee in Shirley.

Swanton said the committee hopes to raise $100,000 and hopes to break ground on a single-family home by 2010. The hope Shirley Fest will kick the fundraising efforts into high gear with hard rock, no-nonsense blues, mellow melodies, food, drink and fun.

Be assured – the organizers want to have fun, too.

“I happen to really enjoy summer concerts --blues and brews in particular,” Swanton said. “We have never really done anything like that in the town of Shirley.”

What better place, they decided, than the Benjamin Hill recreation area, on what used to be a ski slope back in the day, and which Swanton said is now the perfect place to rock out in town.

 “It is like a natural amphitheater, like ‘Woodstock in Shirley,” he laughed.

Okay, a really toned down Woostock in Shirley. And hopefully not so muddy.

Swanton said, “We got ourselves six bands, seven brewers, and four or five vendors to provide food.”

On the menu are hot dogs, hamburgers, and other culinary delights. When teased by a reporter –“What, no vegan?”

There will be some non-meat fare, but Swanton concedes that blues may well be the ultimate music for carnivores.

And speaking of the music: Kirchen, of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen fame, leads the pack, which includes The Installers, a local blues group; The Matt Zeiner Band, Ashbrook Haynes, Daniella Moraglia, and opener Chris Reddy.

The whole affair will be emceed by Carter Allen of classic rock station WZLX’s “Sunday Morning Blues Show.”