It wasn't great news when this year's Bluegrass and Beyond Music Festival in Harmony, Pa., was canceled — but Allie Koch, who'd been brought on to help with booking, decided to make the best of it.
"They were going to have me [program] the Friday night, which wasn't bluegrass; it was more contemporary," explains Koch, who has been booking The Center of Harmony in recent years. "I had a lineup put together, and then ... the bottom kind of fell out, and they decided not to do it this year. The lineup I had was so good, I didn't want to let the idea drop."
The result: the first of what Koch hopes will be an annual charity-benefit event, which she's calling Beat Cancer Pittsburgh.
Beat Cancer Pittsburgh is unique in that it's the first event to specifically benefit Glimmer of Hope's program A Home for Hope. Located at UPMC's Hillman Cancer Center, Home for Hope will integrate traditional cancer therapy and holistic medicine: "The nutrition aspect of it, the yoga aspect, massage, acupuncture — all the other types of treatments that help cancer patients to do better," Koch explains. "And doing it in a scientific way — the end result being to hopefully get insurance companies to pay for those types of treatments."
Koch's dream lineup is a mix of national and local acts: Headliner Shannon Curfman came up in the '90s as a child blues-guitar prodigy, and has more recently been the guitarist in Kid Rock's touring band. Jeff Campbell is a San Francisco singer-songwriter whom Koch manages. Locals Brooke Annibale and Mike Medved will play as well, and VIP ticketholders will catch a performance by Nashville songwriter Shannon LaBrie.
Koch says after the first event, she'll evaluate how to go forward with the show in future years. One thing she hopes to do, though, is stay focused on worthy local charities.
"I definitely lean toward the charities that keep things local over the big national ones. They're worthy in their own right, but it's nice to keep the money with the ones where you live."