GUILFORD >> Tonight at 7 p.m., at the Guilford Community Church UCC, "new folk" sensation Kristen Graves will offer a concert, including an introduction by teens going on an interfaith trip to South Dakota this summer trip.
Graves is a singer, songwriter and humanitarian, called the new generation of folk in the New York Times, and has been mentioned in Rolling Stone for her musical link with environmental activism. Her most recent honor came from Governor Malloy of Connecticut when he proclaimed Dec. 15 to be Kristen Graves Day, a day to honor the arts, compassion and social justice. With catchy songs, funny stories and inspiring lyrics, Kristen performs nearly 200 shows a year delighting audiences coast to coast and internationally. Her most notable performances have been with Dar Williams, Guy Davis, Holly Near, Peter Yarrow and the late Pete Seeger. She has release eight studio albums, and all are available on iTunes.
Her newest release, "Now Ain't the Time for Tears," came out in 2014. Graves and her husband Bryan Nurnberger were in their early 20s when they began working with orphans in Oaxaca, Mexico, creating the non-profit Simply Smiles, a nod to the humility necessary and the importance of smiles when working with the overwhelming issues of poverty.
In 2009 they brought their organization of inspired young people north to South Dakota and began working in the town of La Plant, S.D., one of the most desolate of all Native American Reservations. There they have renovated an abandoned community center, created a community garden and horseshoe pit and begun to build simple sustainable houses for families willing to share in the constructing of these homes. Each summer groups arrive, week by week, to help with these projects. Slowly over the years they have begin to build trust and a bit of hope.
One of the threads of hope they weave happens through evening events featuring the music of Kristen Graves and the volunteers. Many of her songs feature the Missouri River and the stories of the Cheyenne River Sioux. This past summer local teens and their chaperones, representing five local faith communities, joined in the work and music and have come home anxious to return this summer.
This Saturday night the group will host a chicken barbecue and a concert at the Guilford Community Church UCC to help fund their return trip this July. The dinner menu — to eat in or take out — includes barbecue chicken, potato salad, vegetarian chili, macaroni and cheese, green salad and apple crisp with ice cream. $15 for the dinner and concert. $12 dinner only.