Members of Stomp perform at the Food Bank
By Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald

Take a mixing bowl. A box of Grape Nuts. A shopping cart. An empty water jug. A biscuit tin, two coffee cups, one bell, one stool, one cake tray, a mixing bowl, a green plastic garbage bin, a milk crate and a Calgary Food Bank donation bucket, add a few members of the cast of Stomp and what have you got?

A lunch-hour concert like no other.

Those were the instruments played Tuesday at the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank's 11th Street warehouse, where a few members of the cast of Stomp dropped by to perform an impromptu concert on a bunch of stuff they found lying around in the break room.

The result was a brief, brilliant glimpse into the world of Stomp, where everyday objects become musical instruments.

Calgarians can catch the full show this week at the Jubilee Auditorium, where the award-winning, long-running off-Broadway hit is being performed every night through Sunday. (Volunteers from the food bank are also accepting donations of food and cash at the front doors of the Jube before every performance.)

Donors, volunteers and clients of the food bank were on hand in the lobby of the building and were treated to a tasty musical display, whetting their appetites for more.

"I play a bit of drums myself," said 10-year-old Christopher Hensch, following the performance. "The music they could make out of those objects was unimaginable."

The Stompers, a laid-back gang of percussion-playing artists, said there wasn't a whole lot of mystery to the process of determining what everyday items to translate into musical instruments.

"We sit around and we decide what sounds good," said Canterbury native Louis Labovitch, who has been on tour with the show for four years now. "We find something to beat on, bang on them for a second, get the tones and then put them together and create the sound, which is basically the ethos of Stomp."

The show has been running for 15 years in New York's East Village, making it one of the longest-running shows in off-Broadway history. Stompers have performed at the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards and on every late-night talk show you can name. They've performed in more than 350 cities in 36 countries all around the world, blissfully privileged to be performing a show that speaks entirely in the universal language of the beat, which needs no translation.

The troupe's appearance at the Calgary Food Bank helped highlight the fact that hunger is a year-round problem and not simply a holiday event, said Monica Brinck, the food bank's development co-ordinator for organizational giving.

What's more, Stomp's appearance at the food bank couldn't be more timely, as requests for help from the food bank have surged 30 per cent over this time last year, added Brinck.

"As you can see, we're in January, and it's a year-round situation," said Brinck. "The fact that Stomp are performing, and supporting the food bank, that means the community can go out, enjoy the show and help Calgarians at the same time. It's awesome.

"We still have people coming in --150 to 200 families a day--receiving our help and volunteers and food and cash all make a huge difference. All year."

While demand is up, Brinck said so far the food bank has been able to keep up with the requests, which was evidenced by a 60,000-square-foot warehouse filled with crates of food, that go toward making up the hampers, which provide families with seven to 10 days worth of food.

It was a sight that left drummer (they're all drummers) Labovitch with mixed feelings.

"I was packing baby food over there," said Labovitch. "It's horrendous-- seeing all this food, a massive warehouse, with literally tons and tons of food--all going to people who desperately need it. How does that happen?

"It's heartwarming," he added. "And heartbreaking at the same time."

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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