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‘Celebrate love’: Middle Way House to organize Valentine’s Day benefit concert


The Blockhouse Bar is located at 205 S. College Ave. To raise money for Middle Way House's Wrapped In Love initiative, it will present a benefit concert featuring Opal Fly and Kapow! 7 p.m. Friday.CLARIFICATION: This caption has been updated to reflect the location of the photo. Cate Charron

For Middle Way House, “Wrapped In Love” is a mantra. It's a way to support survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, it's a clothing line for trees and, this Valentine’s Day, it's a musical celebration.

To raise money for their Wrapped In Love initiative, which provides emergency and support services to victims of abuse, Middle Way House will present a benefit concert 7 p.m. Friday at the Blockhouse Bar featuring Opal Fly and Kapow!

Wrapped In Love is most visible on the streets of Bloomington, where trees are wrapped in sweaters crocheted by volunteer artists which are commissioned and paid for by local individuals and companies. The initiative has raised $20,000 for Middle Way House in the last year, and the proceeds will provide aid to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

The benefit concert will do the same, further advancing the Wrapped In Love movement, said events coordinator Erin Hollinden. .

“We wanted to expand the whole brand and idea of Wrapped In Love,” Hollinden said. “We wrap survivors of sexual assault in love and in our services.”

Hollinden said the event will be a Valentine’s Day dance party complete with music, a raffle and merchandise for sale. All proceeds from the raffle and merchandise, which will include tie-dye T-shirts made by kids in Middle Way House’s youth program, go to the organization.

Headlining the concert is Opal Fly and Kapow!, a genre-transcending local band made up of singer-songwriter Opal Fly, drummer Donn Middleton and bassist Mark Buschkill. They will be joined by fellow Bloomington-based band, The ShackUps. 

In addition to providing tunes, Opal Fly and Kapow! will sell band merchandise and raffle off a vinyl test pressing of their unreleased new album, “Dig It,” which comes out April 4.

“We’re not often in the position financially to help groups like theirs, so the chance to do what we love to help them is really great,” Buschkill said.

The band will perform their original songs, many of which carry an encouraging message that Buschkill said matches the uplifting mission of the concert. They also plan to add Valentine’s Day-inspired standards and dance tunes to their set list, Buschkill said.

“We try and make our music to have a positive message,” Buschkill said. “Our songs are about taking care of yourself and loving yourself, so it does tie in.”

Many musicians perform at the Blockhouse, but co-owner David James said he’s especially happy to host an event for Middle Way House.

“We host a lot of events and it’s always a pleasure to host something for an organization we support,” James said.

Tickets will be sold for $5 at the door.

Though the event is primarily intended to be a fun night for those who attend, it’s important to remember the seriousness of the cause it's advocating for, Hollinden said.

“We all want to understand that Valentine’s Day is painful for many people, and intimate partner violence is a large chunk of sexual assault out there,” Hollinden said. “So we want to celebrate love.”

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