Big Grove to host benefit concert with CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank

As prices for basic living necessities increase, CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank looks to support the Iowa City population and meet the rising demand for their services.


Larry Phan

The Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City is seen on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

Jami Martin-Trainor, Arts Reporter

The Big Grove Summer Jam Concert Series provides an opportunity for people to enjoy summer staples — spending time outside, eating good food, and listening to live music.

In collaboration with the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank, Big Grove is hosting a free benefit concert from rockabilly band HomeBrewed that allows attendees to give back to the community by participating in a silent auction and giving other direct donations.

Julia Winter, director of development at CommUnity, said the goal of the silent auction is to provide funds to people who are struggling to afford basic living necessities.

“Inflation is driving grocery, gas, and living expenses up and making it harder for our neighbors to make ends meet. We want to help alleviate some of the stress caused by financial barriers by providing more food for each household at every visit,” Winter wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

The idea of a benefit concert and melding arts with a good cause is not unique to CommUnity or HomeBrewed.

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In the past, HomeBrewed has performed for CommUnity’s holiday concert that took place at the now-demolished Mill. Winter said this concert will be their first time collaborating with HomeBrewed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

“We’ve had a fantastic partnership with HomeBrewed and the band’s leader, Pete Damiano, for a number of years,” Winter wrote in an email to the DI. “HomeBrewed is incredibly supportive not just of CommUnity, but of many organizations that contribute to the vibrant tapestry that is Iowa City.”

Along with monetary donations, concerts and events of this nature help raise awareness for the organization as a whole.

Winter said while CommUnity has organized benefit concerts in the past, she is looking forward to hosting this event at Big Grove for the first time. She said she is excited to be located at such a popular location that has strong supporters.

“Shows like this are important because they boost awareness of resources in our community and allow us to make connections we might not have made on our own,” Winter wrote in an email. “We want to increase access to our services and the best way to do that is to make sure people know we exist and what we offer.”

HomeBrewed specializes in events of this nature. Their website defines them as a band that focuses on giving back to the community through music.

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Numerous fundraisers in Iowa City have been accompanied by HomeBrewed, where the ultimate goal is to simply help others.

Damiano said community engagement is something he is intrinsically interested in. As the director of the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center, Damiano said working with and helping others is rooted in everything he does.

“That engagement with the community becomes really important, and I felt like if I was going to spend all this time and energy creating a band and creating music, I might as well do something that’s going to benefit others,” Damiano said.

Damiano said that throughout his life, he has felt rather fortunate, but he is more than aware there are others who have not been as lucky. He started HomeBrewed with that idea in mind, with goals of simply sharing his passion and using it for good.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life and this is a little small, fun way to give back,” Damiano said. “You always get more from service than you give.”