This Saturday night, November 7th, local band, Time2Play, will host a fundraiser to help the Greek island of Lesvos provide aid to the large influx of refugees, mostly Syrian and Afghani, arriving on the island. The band is joined in their fundraising effort by Tommy Malvetis owner of the Unicorn Tavern in Old Town Lansing. Malvetis, of Greek heritage himself, is providing the venue for the fundraiser.
The band describes the music it plays as “Rock +” (the plus being blues, country, folk, “and occasional forays into other genres”). It is comprised of members: Fred Dyer on Keyboards; Dave Ludington on Drums; Jack Cahill, Guitar and Vocals; Kathy Brandenburg, Vocals; Rick Hansel, Bass and Vocals; and, Tom Petroni on Lead Guitar. The band plays in and around the Lansing area, and their bio on ReverbNation states, “One thing that makes Time2Play different is that the band plays almost exclusively to support the Lansing area community. If you hire Time2Play, you’re likely to pay them by writing the check directly to a local nonprofit organization or group that’s dedicated to promoting people and things around town.”
So, it is not surprising that the band is hosting a fundraiser, but why this particular one? Lead vocalist, Kathy Brandenburg, explained to me that the band was inspired by the Facebook postings of East Lansing resident, Sophia Koufopoulou.
Sophia, who was born and raised in Greece, runs the Greece/Turkey study abroad program for MSU. Every summer she takes at least one group of students to the Island of Lesvos. This past summer, the refugee crisis was something that Sophia and the students could not ignore. Lesvos sits across from Turkey on the Aegean Sea a mere six miles apart. Thousands of refugees, primarily from Syria and Afghanistan, were arriving weekly.
Sophia returned home to East Lansing after the Study Abroad program was finished. But she couldn’t stop thinking about the crisis and made the decision to return to Lesvos to help in any way she could. As someone who knows Sophia personally, I can say that this was not a surprising decision. Sophia is always the first to help anyone in need. For years she has organized the collection of household goods and furniture for refugees arriving in the Lansing area, and more often than not, she delivers the items herself.
One of the things Sophia did upon returning to Greece was to use to her Facebook page to inform and educate her friends and family to the growing refugee crisis. One of her more recent posts states, “According to UNHCR, 218.000 people crossed the Mediterranean only during the month of October. 8.000 came to Europe through Italy. The rest through Aegean sea [sic] to Greece. 2/3 of these refugees came through the island of Lesvos. During the month of October, Lesvos, an island of 85.000 people welcomed 110.000 refugees. If this is not a Humanitarian Crisis then how [do] we define it?”
Post like that inspired Time2Play to support the people of Lesvos in their aid efforts. Typically, the band supports local charitable causes and they make an effort to connect the cause with the venue, if possible. They already had the gig scheduled with the Unicorn, the Unicorn’s owner, Tommy M. is Greek and they wanted to help the aid effort, so it all fell into place.
The band is “really amazed at the reaction to this particular charity,” according to Kathy. There has been an outpouring of interest and support for this fundraiser.
The Unicorn Tavern is located at 327 E. Grand River, Lansing. It has been described on iloveoldtown.org as “…the home of notorious "Grumpy Tommy's Happy Hour." Tommy has been opening and closing that bar since you were just a glimmer in your parent's eye and he will tell you all about it too. No Mai Tai's here this is a shot and a beer kind of place, and we wouldn't have it any other way.”
Information on Saturday’s fundraiser at the Unicorn Tavern in Old Town featuring Time2Play is available on the event’s Facebook page. If you can’t make Saturday’s event, but would like to help the aid effort, contributions can be made here.