Bluesman Little Freddie King painstakingly autographed the bottom of an earthen serving bowl, which will soon become a silent auction item.
Decked out in a blue blazer and Saints tie, wearing sunglasses and a straw hat, the guitarist seemed to be struggling to find his inner artist.
“I’ve never done this before,” said bandleader Deacon John, painting a pottery bowl while sitting alongside keyboardist Jon Cleary at the Earth & Fire Studio in the Maple Street neighborhood. Cleary applied an expressionist interpretation of piano keys to the bottom of his bowl.
At least four autographed celebrity bowls will be auctioned at a fundraising event benefiting New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness to be held at Rock ’n’ Bowl, 3000 South Carrollton Ave., from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday.
The admission price includes food, bowling and music provided by the Hot 8 Brass Band.
The first 300 ticket buyers to the Rock ’n’ Bowl event will receive a complimentary bowl handmade by a local potter to fill with red beans and rice or Crawfish Monica prepared by Southern Hospitality Catering and Kajun Kettle.
The event being held on Mother’s Day adopted the Empty Bowls concept, an international grass-roots effort that raises funds and hunger awareness.
“The bowls are a reminder of the empty bowls in the worlds,” said Sandra Cordray, board vice president.
NOAAHH distributes funds to about 20 different nonprofit organizations providing free food and shelter, including the Ozanam Inn, Just the Right Attitude, Project Lazarus, Hope House, Samaritan Center, St. Jude Community Center and several others.
“We’re getting 15 to 25 calls a week from people facing eviction,” said Don Everard, director of Hope House, a NOAAHH grant recipient.
“We’ve been able to help a few more people avoid eviction with the money,” he said.
Earth & Fire owner Amanda Mundee and Jean Jens, one of the studio’s resident potters, donated bowls last year to an Empty Bowl Project event in Natchez, Miss., and decided to plan a similar event in New Orleans.
They reached out to Sister Jane Remson, founder and board member of the New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness.
The coalition of musicians has been raising funds to fight hunger for more than 25 years. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie composed the song “We Are the World” and organized a single benefit to feed people starving in Africa, but Allen Toussaint and Aaron Neville were aware New Orleans also had many hungry people.
They called on Mayor Marc Morial in 1984 to help organize a fundraising concert.
They later formed a NOAAHH, a nonprofit organization, which has raised more than $1 million in grants to more than 50 area charitable organizations.
“All the musicians wanted to participate,” Remson remembered. “We had R&B, jazz, zydeco and country. We didn’t want to leave anybody out.”
Many concerts featuring at least 100 musicians were held over three days at the Riverwalk, Saenger Theatre and Lafayette Square. In later years, national musicians participated, including Rita Coolidge, Boz Scaggs, Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett.
The need for food is no less now. New Orleans is the No. 2 city in the nation in terms of food insecurity. Every feeding agency is in need of food, Remson said.
Thirty potters are donating glazed and signed pottery, including resident potters from Earth & Fire: Julie Woolfolk, Susan Bergman, Marlyn Flannery, Kate Tonguis, Michele Benson Huck, Heather Lane, Sherryl Lutz, Cindy and Alex Williams, Chip Tipton, Tom Hughes, Casey Williams and students Maite Vail, Liz Williams, Joana Robers, Tom Vial and Viki Wolfe.
Tickets for $30 can be purchased at www.noaahh.org or at the door. Admission is free for children under 12 accompanied by an adult.