Thoughts for Food

by Mike Huberty
February 2011

Thoughts For Food

Thoughts For Food

Easily the largest benefit concert in Wisconsin, Thoughts for Food gets all the music venues of Racine to party for a cause every year on the first Saturday of March. That cause is the Racine County Food Bank, an organization dedicated to helping the area’s people who are having trouble with the bottom and most basic rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Currently on its 19th year (its longevity a minor miracle in itself), the benefit spans nine Racine clubs as well as over 40 bands. That’s something that Racine County Food Bank Director Dan Taivalkoski doesn’t take for granted. He states, “Our budget is around a million dollars when you factor in the value of food. Our cash budget is about a third of that and Thoughts for Food is about a tenth of that, so it’s a very important fundraiser for us.”

While it’s essential for the Food Bank, it’s also a no-brainer for the venues involved. Taivalkoski states, “Most years you can guarantee a packed house the entire evening. And most of the bars give back their proceeds in the form of a donation to the food bank. It’s positive all the way around.” Most of the time, you expect getting musicians involved to be like herding cats, but it’s the opposite. Taivalkoski states, “The bands all donate their time and talent, and we have more bands than we have space for. Some of the groups have been around doing this event for most years of this event if not for all of them. Most bands look forward to this event every year and a lot of them won’t do a freebie at any other time of the year.”

And that spirit of volunteerism is exactly what charities like the Food Bank need. As Taivalkoski states, “We’ve seen a demand for our services grow while donations have flat lined or gone down a little bit, and even last year they went up slightly, but they didn’t quite keep up with the increase of demand.“

One of the best aspects of Thoughts for Food is that your wristband gets you into every participating club. So, hopping between venues to catch a variety of bands is part of the fun. There are shuttles taking people between clubs, as well as hot dogs and burgers for sale so people don’t have to miss any of the music even if they’re hungry. It’s the biggest music party of the year in Racine and the city comes out to celebrate.

If you like country and Americana music, then you can’t really get any better than the Saturday Night Preachers, who are playing at Eagle’s Down at 8:30pm. Their traditional sound and gorgeous vocals will save your soul from the first note. Then make sure that you move onto George’s Tavern at 11:30pm for the Twang Dragons whose infectious country-rock sound is just about perfect for dancing and singing until the end of the night.

For those with rock on their mind, start out by believing a man’s fingers can fly by watching Lyden Moon rip into his original instrumental guitar songs at Coasters at 8:30pm, slip onto George’s at 10:00pm for a little bit of alternative with the Andes, and then close it out at 11:30pm with 89 Mojo at Michigan’s Pub. Original pop-rock with ridiculously awesome vocal harmonies and peppered with some excellent 90’s favorites, 89 Mojo is your best bet when you want to close your night with your fist in the air.

Wristbands are $10 plus two cans of food, and all the proceeds go to the Racine County Food Bank. The reason why the benefit has been so long-lived and successful is basic. As Taivalkoski states, “When we ask, people respond. Thoughts for Food is evidence of that. We get the job done. We don’t cry wolf and tell them the shelves are empty when they’re not. People understand that basic need. There are so many amazing people who come out and give in our community that are probably in need of services or help themselves.” You can find the entire schedule at

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