Give Hope to the Homeless festival, set for April 8, expands for 2017

Meadow Ryann and Bryce Alford perform at last year’s Give Hope to the Homeless event. | Courtesy of Meadow Ryann

Give Hope to the Homeless, a local music festival, kicked off last year with a surprising bang. This year, it plans to return with full-on assault, complete with an expanded lineup of performers and a bigger venue.

Meadow Ryann, a local musician and founder of Music with a Meaning, created the festival with Bryce Alford, who founded a unique charity called GivePhone. The two combined forces last year for the inaugural festival held at Wick’s Pizza in New Albany, a venture that was not exactly planned far in advance.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment idea,” Ryann recalls. “Like a lightbulb, you know? We were really nervous about the turnout. We thought our friends and family would come, but we wound up with 500 people showing up. It was really great. We expected it to be a one-time thing, but we had so many people who said, ‘When you do this again, let us know and we’ll come.’”

Now those folks have a chance to make good, as Give Hope to the Homeless returns Saturday, April 8, this time at Apocalypse Brew Works, to raise money for My Dog Eats First. This year’s Give Hope to the Homeless features 13 performers, food trucks, vendor booths and unstoppable goodwill.

Music with a Meaning came about through just such will.

“I started it just to help people through music, because that’s what I love doing,” Ryann says. “I love music and I love helping people. My main goal is to raise money through music.”

Ryann, 17, began organizing charity concerts four years ago, and through those and participation in other fundraisers, has assisted in raising more than $60,000 for various charities around the area.

The GivePhone | Courtesy of Bryce Alford

Meanwhile, Alford, 20, created GivePhone with similar aspirations. The Indiana University Southeast student took an old pay phone and restored it into street art.

His hope is to create more and get them placed in public settings, from coffee shops to airports. The coin slot acts as a donation point, and any donations that go into the phones go to homeless charities.

“It’s technically a collection site,” Alford says. “It’s a new concept, a unique way you can give back. It’s been making its way around festivals and things like that, and hopefully it will go bigger and better.”

The prototype GivePhone will be on display — and in use — at Give Hope 2017, an event Apocalypse Brew Works was eager to host.

“Being close to Beargrass Creek, there are pockets of homeless folks who live near here,” says Apocalypse co-owner Leah Dienes. “This festival brings attention to this and provides funds to the groups who can give these people help.”

Among the performers are Ryann herself, as well as Alford’s band Next Obsession. Other acts include the Drowsies, the Placebo Effect, Heidi Joy Stinson and Kelly Scott Franklin, the ProDepressants, Gavin Caster, and others.

Admission to Give Hope to the Homeless is $5, and attendees can bring bags of dog/cat food. Pets are not only welcome but encouraged (on leashes). There will be kiddie pools for dogs and face painting for children, plus a variety of vendor booths representing other charities.

Gates open at 1:30 p.m. and the music goes until 10. Apocalypse is located at 1612 Mellwood Ave.