• Gig Harbor Living Local

Community Bands Together

Musicians help raise funds for local businesses

By Jillian Chandler

Over the last few months, the Gig Harbor community was treated to a weekly Friday night concert series, which kicked off the beginning of summer on July 10 and concluded this past month on October 9. An idea originally spurred in March by Mayor Kit Kuhn, after hearing of a similar concept in Hawaii, began garnering support after conversations with the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation and a few concerned community leaders who wanted to do something to bring the community together to help support local businesses.


By May, the six-member committee comprised of representatives from the City of Gig Harbor, Uptown Gig Harbor and the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation (which included Paula Zenobio, Rob Rigoni, Dr. Julie Ann Gustanski, Laura Pettit, Robyn Denson and Ariel Gustanski) had fleshed out a framework for a 13-week concert series.


Together, the committee decided on a name for the concert series—GHKP Band Together, identified area bands, potential venues and community sponsors interested in banding together through music to raise critical funds to help support local businesses and nonprofit organizations struggling through the impacts of the pandemic.


Many of the bands chosen to participate had previously performed at popular community events like Cider Swig, Summer Sounds at Skansie and Uptown Summer Concert Series. Because these events could not take place this year, and through partnership on the Band Together Concert Series, committee members reached out to these musicians, explaining the goal of the series and asking if they would be interested in performing. All the bands donated their time, and the venues were provided at no charge as well.


The variety of acts during the Band Together Concert Series was incredible—from old school rock to country, to eclectic rock and soulful singer-songwriter originals. Area favorites like Redemption, RoyaLux, Budapest West and My Guilty Pleasure all took to the stage for this great cause. “It was such a fun range of music, which is what made it fun each week, because the community could look forward to something new and different each time,” says Ariel Gustanski, chief operating officer of the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation.


The weekly concert recorded an average of 1,000 concert viewers—topping off with more than 4,000 concert participant viewers! For those who missed the live concerts and would love to enjoy them again, all concert soundtracks/videos are on Facebook and YouTube Live.


“The feedback we received from the community could not have been better. Not only were we able to raise money for small local businesses and nonprofits, but we were able to stream from various local businesses and event spaces, raising awareness for their location but also boosting up our local musicians,” smiles Ariel. “It was such a rewarding experience, and to be able to provide the community ‘live’ music and a bit of Friday night fun during this difficult and uncertain time, while working to do good, made all involved—from musicians, to venue hosts, to sponsors and donors, and the committee—feel great.”


The final concert, streamed from 7 Seas Brewing in Gig Harbor, was held on October 9 and featured The Beatniks. Though at this time there is no plan for a similar event in the coming months, there has been some talk, according to Ariel. “If our community wants more, by all means, we will make it happen!”


Like Media's Julie Reed had the opportunity to emcee one of the concerts and says, "It was a little different emceeing to an empty room and having to talk to a camera live! No retakes! But an amazing experience being able to attend the concert live. The music was incredible, and it was an honor to help Band Together raise funds for small businesses in need. A true Living Local experience!”


During the course of the series, thanks to the community and their presenting sponsor, Puget Sound Energy, they were able to raise approximately $18,000 for small local businesses and nonprofit organizations across the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula community.


“We were so thankful to have some extremely gracious community donors over the course of the series,” Ariel says. “Two major donors made matching gifts two weeks in a row, enabling us to raise more than $5,000 over the course of two Fridays. But more than anything, our community came together for this series, and there were so many individuals that donated every single concert during the series, which was absolutely amazing and proved the essence of what we were aiming to provide—a Friday night concert that was free to attend, with a goal of raising funds!”


Nineteen businesses applied for relief in July and had to meet the following criteria: be a for-profit business or nonprofit; have a state business license dated before January 1, 2020, and be locally owned (no chains); be physically located in Gig Harbor or the Key Peninsula, have brick-and-mortar (physical) location that was open to the public with regular business hours pre-COVID; have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees as of March 1, 2020; have suffered a financial loss due to COVID-19 related mandates.


As of press time, the committee was still reviewing if all criteria was met for each for-profit and nonprofit, and the beneficiaries of proceeds raised had yet to be released.


“We could not have made the Band Together Small Business Relief Concert Series happen without the Band Together Committee, Bumbershoot Media, our sponsors (Puget Sound Energy, CHI Franciscan and Resource Dimensions) or emcees, and all of the locations around our community that offered their spaces free of charge over the course of the 13 weeks,” shares Ariel. “Truly, our community made this possible, and we could not be more thankful and proud of what they enabled us to do for our small businesses and nonprofit organizations.


If you missed any of the Band Together concerts or would like to relive the experience, you can still tune in and watch concerts by your favorite local bands by visiting GHKPBandTogether.org and viewing via the Facebook or YouTube links. You can also make a donation to the Community Emergency Relief Fund at GigHarborFoundation.org.


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