Pitching in to aid the needy
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent December 12, 2012 1:08PM
Several Best of the Burbs musicians performing at VFW Cantigny Post 367: Jim "Ang" Anderson on guitar, Doug Horan on bass, Dan Wile on drums and Marty "Big Dog" Mercer on guitar. | SUBMITTED PHOTO
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:33AM
Man, it’s getting cold out there.
That was the thought running through Marty “Big Dog” Mercer’s mind as he took the stage at his weekly Best of the Burbs jam session.
He thought about the many people without sufficient food and clothes and then decided to collect some of both for MorningStar Mission. The drive runs through Dec. 27.
“I was initially talking about a couple of boxes of food and the next thing I knew, everyone jumped on board,” said Mercer, a local blues artist known for performing charitable events. “We now have four drop-off locations.”
The response to Mercer’s food and coat drive has been phenomenal, far better than he ever imagined, Mercer said.
“I have to go empty the big boxes at Cantigny already,” Mercer said. “I’m pretty certain we can fill them all one more time.
He’s just as thrilled about the crowds that turn out every Thursday night to VFW Cantigny 367. In May, on a whim, Mercer conceived the event to showcase a variety of local talent, entertain the community with a wide range of music and promote the good VFWs provide.
“I think a lot of the VFWs are kinda dying,” Mercer said. “Cantigny is a great place and the manager, Lori Bond, in particular has been very good to me. Cantigny has a very clean, family-friendly environment that’s open to the public. You’ll find nice people there and no cover charge, ever.”
Here’s how Best of the Burbs works: Mercer supplies the drums, bass player and PA system. Each week, Mercer features a guest artist to keep the musical styles fresh. Other musicians sign up on a sheet.
The house band performs for about 30 minutes and then Mercer opens the stage to the other musicians. Mercer keeps the house band on stage as much as possible to retain a solid rhythm section. If he runs through all the musicians and time remains, they may perform again.
“It’s a great way for weekenders to get to play with a band, network with other musicians and share some laughs,” Mercer said.
Drop off locations for non perishable goods are VFW Cantigny Post 367, 826 Horseshoe Drive; Coldwell Banker Honig Bell, 950 Essington Road; and St. Joseph Academy, 51 W. Jackson Street. All locations are in Joliet.
A second box at Cantigny Post is for donations of gently used coats and blankets. The Plainfield Public Library District, 15025 S. Illinois Street, Plainfield, is collecting coats only.
For more information about the collections, call 815-735-8018.