Communique: "Evening In Paris" With Al DiMarco & The Big Fat Accordion Band

Apr 18, 2018

 

The Coastal Carolina Cabaret of St. Paul's Episcopal Church holds its springtime fundraiser at the Scottish Rite Temple on Saturday, April 21: An Evening in Paris. This fundraiser for 4 Wilmington charities is tres chic-food, drink, art, and dancing with Al DiMarco's Big Fat Accordion Band.

The Eiffel Tower greets attendees at the entrance. The party starts at 6:30pm. 

The 4 charities receiving all the income went through an application process this year. The winners are The Help Hub, Carousel Center, Guardian ad Litem, and  "Mother's Day of Hope" with the Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM).

Listen above to Kathryn Hedgepeth and David Tousignant talk about the event and see our extended conversation below.

Kathryn Hedgepeth & David Tousignant
Credit WHQR/gg

David:    For years I've been the coordinator or the chairman, if you will, or co-chairman. This year I'm kind of Kathryn's background helper, kind of the operations guy.

Kathryn: I'm the co-chair this year. I've been on the committee with David for, well since it started. We seem to be perpetual members. This is my first year chairing.

Gina:     I'd like to first talk about what this is because this is through St Paul's Episcopal Church.

David:    We do two major outreach fundraisers every year. In early December we had Coastal Carolina Christmas and this is Coastal Carolina Cabaret.

Gina:     Both of these fundraisers are actually raising money for other organizations. 

Kathryn: That's correct.

Gina:     I don't know if you always do the same thing, but the Cape Fear Guardian ad Litem has been on my mind a lot lately.

Kathryn: It's the first time for us doing something with them.

Gina:     There's a lot of kids because of the opioid crisis who need them. It's so interesting how everything has a ripple effect.

Kathryn: It does. And the Carousel Center is involved with that same population as well. In some cases you can say WARM is too, because they're helping mothers who are on their own and at risk. Sometimes they're at risk and certainly their kids can be at risk and so they're helping them with their housing. So add in the Harrelson Center helping the families get stabilized and they kind of made a good package for us this year.

Gina:     And I see Mothers Day of Hope. Is that part of the Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry? 

Kathryn: It is. They do an annual project where they select a mother who has a home that is not in the best of shape and they rebuild parts of it. And because of our support, they're hoping to have two this year. The support will give them enough to actually help two different families. So we're pretty proud of that.

Gina:     Review for me again all the people who are receiving the support.

Kathryn:    It's the Carousel Center, which you're probably familiar with. They provide a lot of mental health aid for really abused and at risk kids. WARM- Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry. The Guardians ad Litem Association. We specifically chose helping the smallest- the infants- that need equipment so that they can go to a foster home and be safe. And Help Hub at the Harrelson Center.

David:    Which was a collaborative effort from a number of different churches including St. Paul's where we pooled our resources and are able to extend the necessary assistance to people for an outreach effort.

Gina:     That need is not diminishing.

Kathryn: No, unfortunately.

Gina:     Tell me about A Night in Paris.

David:    Well, it's a perfect theme and it's certainly a musical event and we're featuring Al DiMarco  and his Fat Accordion Band; that's comprised of Al, who is on accordion as well as keyboard, also a very fine vocalist, the well-known Benny Hill saxophone player will be accompanying him along with another saxophone player, Paul Lewis. And David Toma will be on percussion or drums. The music's going to be obviously starting out with the theme of French, but there will be some more classical things like Sinatra and probably some rock and roll. A lot of dancing, a lot of fun.

Gina:     And where is this?

Kathryn: Scottish Rite Temple over on 17th Street, which gives us enough space to have a good dance floor.

Gina:     And there's food?

Kathryn: There is. We're having a full French feast. From the pate in the beginning with wine. Then we go into beef bourguignon and poulet. Ending up with a tart and berries and all sorts of goodies, wonderful desserts So that's all included in the price of the ticket, which is $30 a person and they are still available.

Gina:     What a deal.

Kathryn: We're limited, but there are still available. So you get the whole evening.

Gina:     You have a silent auction happening, and a 50/50 raffle, which is always fun.

Kathryn: It is. And it also raises a lot of money. People really want to get the 50/50. The silent auction is fun because we've focused on artwork from local artists. So we have paintings, we have photography. We have a really interesting hand painted vase done by local artist, Barb Scalia, which has mermaids swimming all over it. Kind of fun. We have stained glass. It's an assortment of really nice art pieces, some jewelry. So it kind of picks up the eclectic interests of a lot of different people, we hope.

It's a very fun party. Last year we had trouble getting people to go home. They were having so much fun and the band kept playing, so we just stuck around.

Gina:     How do you determine the organizations that receive the money?

Kathryn: We actually had an application form this year. People had to apply. They had to be a registered charity, 501c3 charity with a track record of helping- since our emphasis has been on children to a great extent- in some way helping families and children. So we were kind of specific in what we were looking for. We had, I believe, nine different groups apply and we chose these four. They kind of complimented the three that we did with the Carolina Christmas, so we'll be supporting a total of seven different charities this year with our outreach. I would say when we first started doing this, we raised a couple thousand dollars and now we're hitting $20,000 plus that we're have generated for these. So we're very proud of that.

David:    A lot of organizations love to get involved in this type of activity but they really aren't trained or qualified. So we really try to pick some of the best in our community and provide the help to them and let the professionals do it and we'll take a little credit and say thank you.

Gina:     How long have you all been doing this?

David:    This is the sixth year of doing either the Coastal Carolina Christmas, which we do in December, or the Cabaret. Actually, last year it was a Mardi Gras celebration, because it was a little different timing.

Gina:     So last year there was a dress up theme.

Kathryn: There was. This year we're kind of saying come in your fun party clothes. We're doing lots of flowers, Tinga Nursery has loaned us flowers. So we're going to have a garden effect and we have an Eiffel Tower in the front entryway when you come in.

David:    Not the real one, it's a scale miniature.

Kathryn: It's going to be just a “hang out and have a good time at spring time and we can enjoy it” type of party.

Gina:     And how do people get tickets?

David:    Well, you can go online. spechurch.org, which is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s website. You can buy them there or at the door. Or if you know some parishioners, I'm sure they can probably find one in their back pocket for you.

Kathryn: A lot of people just call the church as well and we'll have kept tickets for the people at the door. We're asking that people try to let us know they're coming in advance just because we want to make sure we have everything in place for them. The website, spechurch.org is the best way to get to us.

Gina:     How far in advance do you decide what the theme is each year?

Kathryn: Part of it is on our timing. Because we're a church, we didn't want to do it right at Easter time, so we kind of delayed it a bit. Spring seemed a wonderful time to do something fun. If we could come up with a common theme that we could do all the time and at a certain time of year we might, but I'm not sure we'll quite come up with that again.

David:    Both of these events are around a lot of other activities in the city. So we try to pick a weekend where we have some availability. Obviously we're just coming off a big high with the Azalea Festival. Hopefully people will turn out for our event as well.

Gina:     But you know, it's kind of fun that you get to pick a different theme each year. Although I know that that's more work, in a way. 

Kathryn:    It is because we don't repeat, unless you do a lot of inventive things. This year we have, for instance, mannequin heads and they've carved the top of them out and turned them into vases, painted faces on the blank head so they look like a French coquette with a big flower headdress on and that's going to be the center pieces. So you can kind of create all sorts of new things every year when you have a different theme. We have a very wonderful committee that's very creative. We've gotten a lot of good support from the community with donations of beer and wine. We're trying to hold our expenses down as low as we can so that we really turn around everything that's donated to us back out to the community. That's really our goal.

Transcription Assistance by Production Assistant, Lindsay Wright