Jammin’ for Justice concert aims to help neighbors

PORT ANGELES — A Montana bartender-pastor, a marimba band specializing in the music of Zimbabwe and Abby Mae & the Homeschool Boys: Together, they’re giving an inaugural Jammin’ for Justice concert Saturday.

The 6 p.m. event will take place at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 E. Lopez Ave., and admission is a $10 donation to benefit Holy Trinity’s Advocacy in Action coalition.

With saloonkeeper-preacher-singer Jim Johnson of Red Lodge, Mont., Zaya Marimba of Port Angeles and Abby Mae’s ensemble of Sequim- and Port Angeles-grown bluegrass players, Jammin’ will raise funds specifically for MANNA, an interfaith organization offering aid to people who have hit a rough spot, said concert organizer Merry Van Deusen.

MANNA — Ministry Assisting Neighbors in Need with Agape — helps with utility bills, bus passes, medication and other basics.

The all-volunteer group operates on the tenet of caring for one’s neighbor, Van Deusen added.

And just as MANNA welcomes everyone, Jammin’ for Justice is for everybody.

“Our invitation is to the whole community,” Van Deusen said.

“We hope for them to come and have a fun evening. There will be a silent auction and a raffle and just a joyful time,” with a diverse mix of music.

Johnson, who has both a bachelor’s degree in music and a Master of Divinity degree, was a Lutheran pastor for a decade and then owned the Bull ‘n’ Bear Saloon in Red Lodge for 16 years.

Interesting stories

“He has interesting stories to tell” along with his songs, Van Deusen said.

Zaya Marimba, meantime, will stir in songs from the Shona people of Zimbabwe.

“‘Zaya’ means coalescence — to grow together — in the Shona language, which is what our ensemble strives to do musically,” said Susan Lynch-Ritchie, a member of the 5-year-old group.

“We invite people to come hear, move and dance to this joyous, lively and rhythmically complex music,” Lynch-Ritchie added.

She and Zaya Marimba offer songs “by the people and for the people of Africa, as well as all the world.”

The third act, the popular Abby Mae & the Homeschool Boys, will bring to the evening a youthful, exuberant treatment of gospel and bluegrass.

The band describes its sound as “foot-stompin’ and down-homey” and has developed a following across the North Olympic Peninsula with its renditions of songs, from “Landslide” to “I’ll Fly Away.”

Jammin’ for Justice just might become an annual event, said Van Deusen.

Its intent is to raise spirits — and awareness of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s advocacy efforts.

Advocacy

At the state level, Advocacy in Action members write to lawmakers urging them not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor; locally, Holy Trinity members volunteer as tutors at Franklin Elementary School.

The church has “adopted” the school, Van Deusen said, adding that the volunteers believe the one-on-one time with students makes a significant difference in their lives.

Van Deusen, a retired nurse, also donates her time at the Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics, aka VIMO, clinic in Port Angeles.

There, people who can’t afford insurance receive medical care; they’re treated with respect and dignity, and for that, “they are so grateful,” she said.

“People in need are our neighbors. They are so often ignored,” Van Deusen believes.

Jammin’ for Justice, then, is Holy Trinity’s concerted effort to make the community of Port Angeles a more just place for all of its residents, not only by contributing proceeds to MANNA, but also by spreading the word about the need for volunteers at local schools and agencies such as VIMO.

“This is about helping our neighbors,” Van Deusen said. “That’s what advocacy is all about.”

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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