A quick look at the publicity biography for six-member recently formed band Artesian Legacy, which includes two county employees, shows that they like to have a good time. Drummer Joel Paine “can and does lay it down,” while saxophonist and pianist Diane Baltaeff is “bringing it,” the biography said.
When Annie Strite of the Cumberland-Perry County Mental Health Office begins singing her “special song,” however, it’s clear that the band — like the Mental Health Awareness Month Open Air Concert at which they will perform Saturday in Newport — is about much more than having fun.
Strite wrote the music for the song, titled “Keep Pushing On,” last summer after reading a poem a person with a mental illness wrote as she was being discharged from the hospital.
“She had written this beautiful poem, and I asked her if it was OK if I took this poem and wrote some music to it,” she said. “It’s just a song about hope and the promise of recovery if you never give up.”
The song was a success the first time it was performed during Mental Health Awareness Week last October, she said. The community rallied around the song, as a local attorney’s office volunteered to put copyright protections on it and a music company recorded a performance of it, she said.
“It’s been really very neat to see how the community comes together,” she said.
Artesian Legacy then formed in March to perform at the Open Air Concert.
Baltaeff, who works as a campus pastor for Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, said she has enjoyed performing music with Strite in the past.
“I just wanted to support and serve her efforts. I know her heart for people who have mental illness,” she said.
Still, all six band members — also including county Chief Clerk Larry Thomas (mandolin and guitar), Taylor Andrews (guitar), and Robin Shenck (bass and vocals) — share a common mission.
“These local musicians care about the needs of others and desire to raise awareness related to overall wellness and specifically mental wellness,” according to the biography.
The band will perform rock, jazz, blues and other varieties of music at the picnic, Strite said.
The picnic will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 31 at Little Buffalo State Park in Newport in the East Day Use area, according to the county. Other artists scheduled to perform include Colby Dave and Chubediah, Nate Myers, the Sabrina Duke Band, and J. R. Wolf.
The picnic concludes a series of May events organized by the Cumberland/Perry Community Support Program for Mental Health Awareness Month. The events are designed to raise awareness of and help the community learn more about mental illness, CSP representatives said.