Alexandria, VA – On February 17th, the Charity Catjammers, a makeshift group of bluegrass musicians led by King Street Bluegrass, surprised even themselves with a Zoom concert that raised $3,094 for the non-profit group The 25th Project.
“We thought If we make $500 [through our charity concerts], that’s normally pretty good but with Zoom, we have friends in Chicago who donated for example and we had someone in New York,” said King Street Bluegrass Harmonica player Roger Hart.
According to King Street Bluegrass bassist Nancy Lisi, the band has a reputation for fundraising, so charities often approach them for help. Once a charity project is selected, its all hands on deck within the KSB team, who do all the marketing and planning on their own dime.
“King Street Bluegrass puts the same effort into all our performances, but we seem to play more shows and make more money for charities than we do for our own profit,” said Lisi of her band which also includes Rob Waller, Donnie Faulkner and Robert Swain in addition to the aforementioned Roger Hart. Faulkner was the emcee for the event.
The Catjammers is a loose association of area bluegrass musicians that were originally organized by Lisi and her fellow band members in 2010. Their first charity concert raised money for cat rescue organizations working to find new homes for the 110 stray cats left over from the closure of the stables at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, Maryland.
“Upon successfully completing that project in 2011, the Catjammers were unwilling to disband because [we] were having too much fun,” said Lisi.
Many members of the Catjammers donate as well as play. Lisi estimates that $500 was donated from her band alone.
“Whenever I ask them if they want to play for charity, they jump right on it and they are the most altruistic people I have ever known,” added Lisi.
Part of the motivation is to top previous charity raising records. The previous Catjammer record for funds raised in one evening was $2500 for Fort Belvoir Fisher House in 2016.
This concert’s recipient, The 25th Project, is a local non-profit that organizes relief for the unsheltered homeless throughout North America centering on the 25th of each month. The idea started when founder Jay Herriot and his immediate family gave meals out on Christmas and Thanksgiving to homeless people. In 2010, Thanksgiving and Christmas both fell on the 25th of the month. When reflecting about what would happen if people gave out meals on the 25th of every month, he decided to start a non-profit.