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  • Marian Hubler

Marian’s Did You Know… About the Bread & Roses Name and Our Longevity?

Touched by all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses, for the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses…

Did You Know… that it was a poem called Bread and Roses written by James Oppenheim in 1912 that inspired our founder, the late Mimi Fariña, to name the nonprofit organization she started in 1974. The poem was written to commemorate a strike by women and children as they marched for higher wages in the mill town of Lawrence, MA. Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too… Bread is essential but so are the roses -- the art, the beauty, the music – essential in life and also to our mission.

The New York Times recently received a letter to the editor from Baker Juliette Lelchuk of Minneapolis who prepares and delivers meals free of charge to people living with illness. When a local garden center had to close, they donated 1,500 potted flowers so she could also deliver a flower to each of their recipients. She said; “It brightened all of our spirits to receive, and share, a colorful dash of springtime during these times of uncertainty. As the saying goes, we need bread and roses.”

We are blessed to have such a dedicated community of volunteers and supporters – so many wonderful people who have made our longevity possible – 45-years-strong! There are many stories we could tell of all who have helped Bread & Roses Presents along the way to continue to bring the roses – the hope and healing through live music and the performing arts to those in the Bay Area who are isolated. Here are the stories of a few of our longtime supporters.

Banana, aka Lowell Levinger a founding member of The Youngbloods, has been a part of our organization since the very beginning. He performed for over twenty years as Mimi Fariña’s regular musical collaborator nationally and internationally. He has also been a Bread & Roses institutional show performer since the 70s and still does concerts for our isolated audiences, most recently the West Marin Seniors and the preschool children at Papermill Creek in Point Reyes Station. Several years ago he co-produced, with Michael Kleff, a CD from a live concert that he and Mimi performed at an opera house in Germany during the 80s. Visit our new merch page to order a copy of this exclusive recording to benefit Bread & Roses.

Danny Scher, who worked for many years alongside the late Bill Graham, oversaw the production of many of our earliest concerts at the Bread & Roses Festivals of Music held at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley from 1979 to 1991. Through the years, he has also hosted Bread & Roses benefit concerts at Coventry Grove, the beautiful outdoor amphitheatre at his home in Kensington with artists ranging from Bonnie Raitt and Roy Rogers to Rita Moreno. A steadfast supporter, he is on our Circle of Advisors and a regular benefit concert sponsor.

Ken Friedman met Mimi during the 70s in Mill Valley where our office was based in the early years. A legendary music photographer for 17 years with Bill Graham Presents, Ken helps document the celebrity performers at Bread & Roses benefit concerts to this day.

Peter Merts, a former staff producer in the 80s, is another professional photographer who has made an invaluable contribution to Bread & Roses by documenting our institutional shows through the years. He has a special gift for capturing the essence of each show – the magic that happens through the moments of connection between artist and audience.

Paul Liberatore relayed that he met Mimi Fariña in 1971 and that he is proud to be a member of today’s Circle of Advisors(COA). He helped lead a Q&A with Ben Fong-Torres for one of the COA gatherings last year. Paul recently shared; “I’ve been a supporter of B&R for more than 45 years, beginning around Christmastime 1973, when Mimi and her singing partner, Tom Jans, came into the IJ bureau office in Mill Valley to tell me about the organization she was starting called Bread & Roses, and asked if I’d like to write about it. How could I say no?"

"One of the organization’s first events was to be a New Year’s Day concert at San Quentin with Boz Scaggs, Joan Baez, Jon Hendricks, Paul Krassner, the Congress of Wonders and a host of other performers and personalities. Unfortunately, because of a lock-down at the prison, the concert inside the walls was called off at the last minute. Undaunted, Mimi had everyone gather and perform at her house on Mount Tam. The show was recorded and broadcast on the prison radio station. I did interviews with everyone that ran in-between the musical numbers,” he said.

Ken Harrison is a long-time supporter and volunteer first assigned as a driver during the Greek Theatre benefits. He used to pick-up our celebrity artists at the airport in a snazzy rental car. Every year he sponsors our annual volunteer celebration aka The JAM. He is always the first person to buy tickets for all of our benefit concerts.

Martha Fleischmann was Bread & Roses business manager in the 90s. After she retired, she stayed active with our organization as a volunteer host. She and her husband Roger have also contributed as donors through the years. She got in touch again when she moved to The Sequoias in Portola Valley as she hoped we might serve the memory care and dependent living audiences at their large nonprofit community. When we started bringing music there, Martha rose to the challenge of becoming our “resident volunteer host” enabling us to expand our reach to another large isolated senior audience in the South Bay.

We are grateful for the efforts of those in our community who are helping others get through the pandemic. Like former board member Katie Smith of Rockflowerpaper who used her contacts with manufacturers in China to order masks for emergency first responders in Marin with the help of a generous donation from The Marin Community Foundation.

Or former KFOG radio personality Greg McQuaid, who has helped us as an emcee and media consultant. He is now literally stepping up to raise money for the SF-Marin Food Bank to support getting fresh food to all who need it during the lockdown. Greg is climbing 1,000 feet vertical elevation in his backyard every day to complete his Shelter In Place/OCD Garden Steps Challenge.

Every day we continue to be inspired by the treasure trove of committed people who help us bring the roses, along with the bread…

By Marian Hubler, Communications Manager/Producer

Photo Credits:

1) Banana (r), Bread & Roses Heart of Marin 2018 Nominee, with film-maker Dan Foldes. Photo by Marian Hubler.

2) Danny Scher with his guests Nancy Germain and Cynthia Parsons at our 2019 Spring Benefit Concert. Photo by Ken Friedman.

3) Bread & Roses office in Mill Valley in the eighties with our founder Mimi Fariña. (L-R) Peter Merts, Eric Lykfors, Ellen Thomas, Mimi Fariña, Tom Lapinsky, Jeanne Bogardus, Judy Underwood. Photo by Richard McCaffrey

4) Ben Fong-Torres and Paul Liberatore at the 2019 Circle of Advisors event. Photo by Marian Hubler.

5) Resident Bread & Roses Host Martha Fleischmann, with husband Roger, at The Sequoias in Portola Valley. Photo by Marian Hubler

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