By MIKE CHAIKEN
The Philippines Mission project continues its annual series of fund raising concerts this weekend.
This year, the fundraiser scheduled for Oct. 7 features Ray and Victoria Palagy.
Ray, a sound designer for ESPN, plays drums and percussion with several local Connecticut bands.
Victoria has played and toured internationally with the Tom Tom Club (a spin off of the Talking Heads) since the 1990s. She was also in a tribute to the Shangri-Las that toured internationally.
Kim Villanti, the driving force behind the Philippines Mission explained that the organization started in 2008 with donations going to an orphanage to the Philippines and has evolved into providing advanced education and training for selected students as a way to uplift them out of poverty. To date, the mission has paid college tuitions for 26 students who have graduated with degrees in education, hospitality, IT, nursing, accounting, and one seminary student.
“The mission’s focus is on education because that is the only way to ensure a kid can not only provide for themselves, but for their entire family,” said Villanti. “Often, we are helping up to 10 family members by helping one student.”
“We have known about this Philippines Mission for years and supported it before in our church and attended the concerts that Kim put on so it was an honor when Kim asked us,” said Ray when asked why he and Victoria were interested in performing at the benefit.
Ray said he and Victoria have no personal connection to the mission, “Just our friendship with Kim and our desire to help those who are motivated to improve their lives through education.”
Ray said it is important for artists to help the community when they can.
“Music is our strong suit and it’s the best way we can connect with people and that in of itself helps make our community’s stronger,” said Ray.
Asked about how the musical partnership between the pair developed, Ray explained, “Victoria was introduced to me by a mutual friend to help her produce music for her own project back in New York and we hit it off as writers and then a relationship followed. We have been making music together for many years.”
Ray said the best way to understand how the pair of them approaches music is to listen to their previous original project at blondestreak.com and on facebook/blondestreak.
Pressed further, however, Ray said, “My background is more rock and Victoria’s is more folk and pop. Our music is a nice hybrid of the two.”
“Victoria’s years of stage experience with Tom Tom Club gave her the confidence to perform her own music. Probably the biggest influence from that band was the importance of the groove or beat in delivering a satisfying show,” said Ray.
“Victoria would add that her years with the Shangri-Las gave her a love of vocal harmony while her years with Tom Tom Club gave her a love of live performance with talented and fun people,” said Ray.
“At this show,” said Ray, “we will be performing mostly covers of some of our collective favorite songs as well as doing an original from our band BlondeStreak, and also taking the audience on a musical stroll through some of Victoria’s career. We’ll be doing a medley of songs she played with the Shangrilas as well as a song that was a hit for the Tom Tom Club.”
“We will describe the connection and meaning that some of the songs have for us,” said Ray.
Plus, said Ray, “We will have a couple of guest performers — from the Villanti family— and will be joined by two local musicians on choice songs- Jak Taka on bass guitar and Kyle Brazauski on keys.
“People should expect to have fun,” said Ray.
The concert will be held on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 7 to 9 pm at the T-Salon Café House, 245 Main St., Bristol and the suggested donation is $20. There will be wine and beer available for sale and there will be some complimentary hors d’oeuvres.