BRATTLEBORO -- A few months ago, Elliot Gunzburg was walking around downtown and lamenting the recent of loss of most of Brattleboro's live music venues.

With the Mole's Eye long gone, and Rocky Top and Weathervane both closed, Brattleboro's streets, which once boasted three or four bars with live music, can seem pretty quiet on a Friday or Saturday night.

Gunzburg plays in a band himself -- Lunar Effects -- and so he contacted the owner of The Stone Church in November, scheduled a show and decided to make it a fundraiser for the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center overflow shelter.

Three months and $1,500 later, Gunzburg and his new concert promotion company are scheduling their third show this weekend.

"I've been wanting to play at the Stone Church, and we need more live music in Brattleboro," Gunzburg said. "So one day I thought, ‘Why not do a fundraiser for a good cause.'"

On Saturday, Feb. 22, from 8 to 11 p.m. at The Stone Church on Main Street, Heart Strings Productions will host Fantastic Partnerz and The Barn Party House Band for a dance concert.

Admission is a $10 minimum donation and all of the money collected will go toward the overflow shelter, which is open all winter at the First Baptist Church on Main Street for the area homeless population.

The group held two other concerts this winter.

Gunzburg said it was an easy decision to choose the overflow shelter as the recipient for the money.

"The people who stay there need that shelter," said Gunzburg. "We did the first show near Thanksgiving and it seemed like a time of year where we wanted to give to the overflow shelter. It's a hard time of the year not to have a home."
The original plan was to hold one show, have a good time and raise some money.

Gunzburg said they had so much fun, and raised a surprisingly large amount of money, that they are going to keep putting on shows.

Brattleboro Area Drop In Center Executive Director Lucie Fortier said that when she was told about the shows she thought it was a great idea, and she expected to get a couple of hundred dollars.

With $1,500 raised so far, and another show scheduled this weekend, Fortier said the idea seems to be working for everyone.

The overflow shelter opened a month earlier this year, Fortier said, and a volunteer coordinator was hired this year to help organize the volunteer hours at the shelter.

"This comes at a great time for us," Fortier said. "It is going to be a costly year and it is so great to get a donation like this out of the blue."

Fortier was out of town during the previous shows, but said she was looking forward to seeing the music this weekend.

"The Stone Church is a spectacular place to see live music and it has been very underused," said Lisa Ford, who has been helping organize the shows with Gunzburg. "It's a great combination to have local musicians playing for a good cause. People have been really getting behind the idea and are making it happen."

Fantastic Partnerz plays a blend of '80s rock and Motown, while The Barn Party House Band has been putting on New Orleans funk dance parties in Marlboro during the last year.

Ford said the musicians have been donating their time and equipment, the owner of The Stone Church is letting the group have the room at a discount and the audience has been receptive to the idea, even though the two previous shows have been held on cold and icy nights.

"People would much rather stay in Brattleboro and dance to live music instead of having to drive to Northampton," Ford said. "The musicians get to play to a new audience. People get to come out and dance, and we get to support a community organization."

Ford said the group hopes to continue having shows.

They are talking about including other nonprofit organizations in the project if interest continues to build.

"As long as we have interest and people are having a good time we'll keep doing it," Ford said.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.