To raise awareness last year about domestic violence, prominent businessmen and politicians in Lawrence, Kan., donned bright red stilettos and posed for the 2011 Red Shoe calendar. The effort also raised money for their local shelter.
Looking for the same results, Lexington scientist John Yannelli has organized An Evening of Acoustic Music featuring male soloists, duos and bands.
His idea should be far less painful for the men involved but just as colorful.
"I am doing this because I watch the tireless efforts of the women who work in these shelters, and I am incredibly impressed with their focus and dedication," Yannelli said.
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Yannelli said he has watched his wife, Angela Yannelli, associate director for the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, or KDVA, work long hours to bring comfort and protection to the hundreds of men and women who are victims of domestic violence each year.
And he said he is also well aware of the increased competition for fewer federal dollars and how that negatively affects so many social programs. As an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, Yannelli has to compete for research dollars.
Knowing all that, he wanted to find a way to help those working to eliminate domestic violence.
Meanwhile, Yannelli had rekindled his love of the acoustic guitar that had been dormant while he concentrated on rearing their four children.
"It is difficult to play in bars and clubs and then go home and help with the children," he said. "I set it aside 26 years ago."
It dawned on him to use his renewed love of music to help the KDVA and the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, or BDVP, by promoting a music festival.
"I think it came out of an internal wanting to reconnect with his music and then to do this also to add a little more meaning to it," Angela Yannelli said.
Her husband agreed. "I'm looking to make this an annual event," Yannelli said. "Scientists need a creative outlet other than the lab."
Coming up with an idea is sometimes the easy part, however. Getting that idea implemented can be very complicated.
Yannelli set his eyes on MoonDance at Midnight Pass amphitheater, 1152 Monarch Street, behind Beaumont Centre, as the perfect venue for music on an evening in June. Because the amphitheater has a sound system, the musicians would just have to plug in their instruments.
But the rental fee was beyond his means and those of KDVA and BDVP. The June date was abandoned.
Just when he was turning his sights elsewhere, LexArts, which manages the amphitheater, called to say the fee had been waived.
Yannelli then posted an ad on Craigslist seeking musicians willing to volunteer their talents for a worthy cause.
Within 24 hours, he had 13 ready and willing musicians. "Everyone is giving up a paying gig except me," Yannelli said.
The scheduled artists for Saturday's event are Custom Made Bluegrass, Jesse Taylor Band, Dock Steffey, Jonathan New and Yannelli. At least half of the songs performed will be original pieces. "Except for me," he said. "I won't do my own."
Tickets cost $10, and children 12 and younger are free. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and other picnic gear.
There also will be a silent auction and information tables.
"He just felt motivated to help," said Darlene Thomas, BDVP executive director. "This is a good thing."
While that might be true, Yannelli doesn't want the focus to be on him.
"This is not one bit about me," he said. "This is about these women who organize and run these shelters, and it is about the (victims) who need their help to get their lives in order. Music is secondary.
"I am last, the women are first."