The Wednesday Night Band takes a bite out of hunger — one song at a time

The band will give a free concert to benefit Milton-Freewater's Bread Basket food pantry.

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Wednesday Night Band musician Clark Colahan puts wind in the wind instrument as he whistles out a tune on a tin whistle during rehearsal at Milton-Freewater's St. James Episcopal Church for an upcoming fundraiser for M-F's Breadbasket food pantry.

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Blending American history with the Celtic patchwork, fiddle player and composer Malinda Pankl strings out a lively tune during a Wednesday Night Band rehearsal at Milton-Freewater's St James Episcopal Church for an upcoming fundraiser for M-F's "Breadbasket" food pantry.

Watch a video of The Wednesday Night Band at bottom of the story.

MILTON-FREEWATER — Ladies and gentlemen ... in this corner, weighing in at more than we dare to imagine, we have Goliath the Giant.

Playing that part this evening will be global hunger.

And in this corner, weighing in with plenty of good intentions, we have the plucky David the Giant Killer.

Portraying that role will be the "The Wednesday Night Band."

It seems just that improbable — slay terrible societal ills with a couple of fiddles, a penny whistle and some fancy percussion work.

Could be just the right rock for the slingshot, explained Malinda Pankl at a recent rehearsal for The Wednesday Night Band. The group is preparing for a free concert Friday to benefit Milton-Freewater’s Bread Basket food pantry.

The 7:30 p.m. concert will be at St. James Episcopal Church, 719 Pierce St., one block behind City Hall.

"Last year, the one we did here, we raised about $200," and about $800 altogether through the year for area food banks, she recalled.

It seems a drop in the bucket, less than a drop in the bucket maybe, for the enormous targets of the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2001 by the United Nations to spur on change for impoverished nations.

No. 1 on the list is "Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger."

Five of the band’s musicians are assembled at the church, which Pankl and some other band members attend. This church, like other Episcopal congregations, has embraced what is termed "MDG." St. James is invested in making what difference it can.

One song at a time, in this case.

As a mighty wind blows through the ancient, wood-timbered walls, the band runs through a waltz and a polka as antique amber lights sway above them in time with the elements.

There are no surprises, not even the bluster above that sounds like it could blow off the roof. The band has been around "forever" and playing at local contra dances since 1984, Pankl said.

She plays the fiddle alongside lead fiddler, Trudy Ostby. Terri Trick is on piano, Mary Ann Gilpatrick on guitar, Clark Colahan, flute and tin whistle, and Aaron Canwell as percussionist.

Typically the musicians give their audiences a lively variety of Celtic and American fiddle tunes through jigs, reels and waltzes.

The musicians hope to pack the carved and aged pews, which "seat 50 to 70, depending on who you’re talking to," Colahan noted.

No admission price will be set, only whatever the heart sees fit to give, the band agreed.

Refreshments will be served afterward in the fellowship hall, a time that often ends up lasting longer than the concerts. It’s a chance to talk about the music styles, be social and extend the moment, Pankl said.

"The ladies of this church make great cookies, I can promise that."

Milton-Freewater is an impoverished area at the best of times. The recession, late to arrive here and later to leave, has brought new and extra business to the food bank, the musicians believe. Any help is bound to be appreciated.

"We just want to help out and have a good time doing it," Pankl said with a smile.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom.




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