Blankets. What a simple and practical gift to someone who has no home, no shelter. A blanket can be carried during the day and used during the cold NYC Winter nights. It is portable, durable, and, hopefully, can provide warmth and shelter for someone who really needs it.
Chuck DeBruyn and Kenn Rowell were sitting in a Nyack bar one night when they hit upon the idea of having a musical charity event benefiting NYC's homeless. It was so simple: provide a means for Kenn's musician friends to join him in giving back to the community by donating their time and talent to perform a concert where the cover charge is a blanket. This allowed his non-musician friends to participate as well. All he asked was "Come to my benefit. Bring a blanket." And why not? It's so easy. Give Kenn a blanket and he will personally put it in the hands of someone who really needs it.
Blank-Fest has become an annual holiday event in Nyack, NY. It is a highly-anticipated show that started off small and grew beyond anyone's expectations. Blank-Fest I (1997) took place next door to a Thai food restaurant, formerly known as Mai Place with only a few bands. The following year, Blank-Fest II was held at the very same address, by then known as The Loft. Each year, Blank-Fest has expanded to include more artists of varying musical styles.
It became important to find a venue which could become its permanent home. After much consideration, it was decided to move Blank-Fest (starting with Blank-Fest III) to Bruxelles Restaurant, up the very same Main Street it was born on. This seemed the perfect fit for the benefit, considering Bruxelles' co-owner Chuck DeBruyn was an integral part of the benefit, having performed in every single one and assisting in the planning and coordination of the concert each year. It remained there for the next 10 years, even after Chuck sold his interest in the place toward the decade's end, until the club went out of business, as the 2010's dawned. Since then, the Benefit has found a home above the critically acclaimed Hudson House restaurant, whose 2nd-floor stage had started life as the epicenter of Nyack's Municipal Court - since the building was originally the upscale hamlet's Town Hall.
And now, nearly a quarter-century later, we move into unchartered territory as Covid necessitated a move to cyber-space in the form of the first-ever online Blank-Fest Benefit. Gone - for now - is the live stage and club audience, expected to bring blankets. In its place are videos and live feeds, along with a heartfelt plea for PayPal donations during the net-cast, to be collected for the express purpose of purchasing blankets needed for homeless shelters in the heart of the "greatest City in the world". Being the first year, under this format, one can only wonder what this will net for the less fortunate, but one thing is certain: no one involved with this Charity is letting a world-wide health emergency get in the way of helping those who still need a heartfelt hand!
The event may have moved and Blank-Fest, itself, may have changed since its inception, but its theme has always remained constant: it's about the homeless.
Nothing more, nothing less.