The Heyde Center for the Arts in Chippewa Falls has hosted many a wedding ceremony. But never anything quite like this one.
As many as 400 guests will gather there Saturday evening for the big event – a 1930s-style shotgun wedding set to live outlaw bluegrass music. Attendees are invited to dress in any style of vintage formal wear and bring gifts – but not for the newlyweds.
"The gifts will be given to homeless veterans around the Midwest," said Scott Marrier of Owen, whose sons Chauncey and Darrell Marrier started the sponsoring organization, The Hands Foundation, 10 years ago. (The Hands Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the needy with labor and materials for building projects.)
“Every night in the United States there’s somewhere between 76,000 and 200,000 homeless veterans,” Scott said. “That just isn’t right. That just should not exist in America.”
In 14 months focusing on the homeless veterans, the group has handed out over 800 quilts, 600 pillows, and 5,000 winter items.
“There’s a huge need,” Scott said. “It rips your heart out to see these people. This really can't be happening.”
Although the cause is serious, the show is meant to be all fun. People who attend the show won't be asked to volunteer or join the Hands Foundation.
“We wanted to create awareness, educate people, and maybe give examples of what can be done to help homeless veterans after the concert is over,” Scott said. “Those who are interested in helping will contact us another day. We just want people to enjoy themselves at Saturday's show.”
Because the gifts will be donated to homeless vets, people are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped blankets, sleeping bags, quilts and winter wear. They can also write a check to the Hands Foundation, which will be used to aid homeless veterans. Of the $12 ticket price, $10 goes to the Hands Foundation.
What can people expect from the show itself? The Marrier brothers have, in the past, performed in the Chippewa Valley as their rock group, Fragile. But for Rosewater, they've teamed up with bluegrass musicians to perform what they call “outlaw bluegrass.”
“The show is about a bunch of bootleggers and outlaws,” Scott said. Chauncey, Darrell and the rest of the Rosewater musicians are currently recording the show in the studio as a concept album.
“All the songs are about the young couple and their life,” Scott said, noting the music is appropriate for any age group.“It’s got a little bit of country, a bunch of rock, but is basically bluegrass,” Scott said. “There's eight musicians onstage and they'll have violins, piano, fiddles, everything.”
After the two-hour show, guests can mingle with the band members and learn about some of the work the Hands Foundation has been doing. There will also be a contest for the “best dressed” and also the best dancers in the crowd. The show also kicks off a tour of “Rosewater” throughout the Midwest. Green Bay, Shawano, Minneapolis and Nashville, Tenn., are among the stops planned so far. Each show will benefit the Hands Foundation.
To learn more about the Hands Foundation and its work, visit www.handsfoundation.com.