Graham’s Give Back hosts The Unity Show fundraiser.
By Kaitlyn Wilkes
On March 5, Haute Spot in Cedar Park became the home for The Unity Show. Graham’s Give Back hosted the musical fundraiser hosted in collaboration with KUTX.
This six-hour fundraiser benefitted the nonprofits Free Lunch, The Other Ones Foundation and Diversity Awareness and Wellness in Action (DAWA) Fund.
The Unity Show is a fundraising music series started by musicians Graham Weber and Graham Wilkinson. The fundraiser aims to serve the underserved in Austin by “connecting the community through the power of live music.”
Weber, co-creator of Graham’s Give Back, spoke about creating something that not only benefited local musicians, but also those who needed community support.
“We were able to help our people like our friends and peers,” he says. “But I think we raised a decent amount of money to…help people who really need it to survive.”
Feeling Good at the Unity Show
The sunlight from the 70-degree weather shone through the trees and made the grass look supernaturally green. Families strolled into the venue, sunglasses, cargo shorts and summer dresses in hand. The trees provided ample shade for children to run around in; the tall tables provided a nice gathering place for guests to eat and drink from the menu.
Children and adults alike were able to dance in the large space in front of the stage. The music ranged from acoustic folk to blues-rock, synth-pop and the Americana sound of headliner Heartless Bastards.
Throughout the event, KUTX thanked attendees for coming; their ticket sales became donations to the three sponsored nonprofits. There was ample opportunity for concertgoers to donate more. QR codes were available in plastic stands at the tables; a silent auction, live screen-printing and a donations table also accepted patron donations.
The prizes of the silent auction promised something for everyone. A one-year subscription to Find What Feels Good, a $220 value; $150 off an order from Zilker Belts, which features Argentine craftsmanship; $100 to Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden; a $100 value of sauce, shirt, hat, dry rub and gift cards to Slab BBQ; and a weekend getaway to The Nature Haus (with second night free).
Free Lunch, DAWA & The Other Ones
Free Lunch works to give lunch to those in the Austin community experiencing homelessness. The Other Ones Foundations also works with the homeless in Austin, providing them with humanitarian aid. DAWA Fund benefits musicians and people of color who are “experiencing short term crises.”
The founder of DAWA, Jonathan “Chaka” Mahone spoke to the crowd from the stage in between musical sets. “I started DAWA to provide resources for [people of color who can’t afford to live in Austin anymore].”
DAWA means medicine in Swahili, and Austinites can act as medicine for those in the community who are less fortunate. “These people that are medicine in our community deserve medicine in the form of financial assistance,” Mahone said.
Communications manager at The Other Ones Foundation, Max Moscoe, spoke to the audience about the nonprofit’s evolution since its start in 2017.
“What we’ve done has grown and shifted and changed. But one thing has never changed and will never change; at the core of everything, we build supportive, loving communities with people experiencing homelessness right here in Austin,” Moscoe said. “Last year alone, we were able to put 170 people into safe and stable housing; we were able to pay out $1 million in earned income to people experiencing homelessness, who otherwise would not have had an opportunity to work.”
Let the Music Play
The Grahams joined the roster of artists who performed. The lineup included Jesse Dalton and Grace Rowland from The Deer, Jonathan Terrell, Gordy Quist from Band of Heathens, Goldie Pipes, KVN, Buffalo Hunt, Deezie Brown and Heartless Bastards.
To open the musical festivities, local singer-songwriters blessed attendees with a quaint acoustic set. Then Houston native Goldie Pipes ensnared the attention of the crowd through the groovy guitars and gritty bass lines of blues-rock, encouraging the audience to “shake their hips.”
KVN & the Road of an Artist
Shifting musical tone, blonde synth-pop trio KVN, donned their matching black leotards, fishnet tights and hot pink cowboy boots. The band blended humor with quips about the songs, joking among with each other.
Before KVN’s set, Mahone gave some sound wisdom. “The road of an artist is not easy,” he said. “and “It’s one that you take knowing you’re going to be misunderstood by people who claim to love you. But you stick with it. You stay committed to your vision.”
Letitia Smith, in charge of creative branding for the event, expressed her joy at bringing the community together again after not being able to see live music for a long time. “Turns out all of our musician peers have started charitable organizations,” she said. “That’s huge and amazing. Let’s do something to not only get the community back together, but also support our peers.”
Graham’s Give Back Doing Good Thigns
Since starting Graham’s Give Back in January 2022, Weber says the most rewarding thing about working with the three nonprofits is knowing Graham’s Give Back is making a difference.
“It’s a little tough as an artist to talk about yourself all the time,” he said. “It’s a lot easier for me to talk about something that I’m associated with, I’m really wanting to promote or get the word out about.” I can say for all three of these charitable organizations it’s an honor to be able to spread the word and try to bring awareness and hopefully raise some funds for operations for them. They really put their money where their mouth is, and good things are coming of it.”