Free Concert & Charity Fundraiser in Coral Gables Features Live Music Jamming & Great Raffle Prizes 6/5/09

This Friday Night, June 5th Free Concert & Charity Fundraiser in Coral Gables Will Feature Live Music Jamming & Great Raffle Prizes

As the economy continues to force most to tighten their belts and closely monitor their cash flow many organizations are feeling the strain. Best Buddies, a well known 501©(3) non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with intellectual disabilities is no exception. This year they find themselves straining to send participants to their 2009 Annual Leadership Conference. When news of this reached local rock band and winners of nine Status QuO South Florida Live Music Awards, The Coffee House Gypsies, they joined forces with the elegant Hotel Saint Michel in Coral Gables and all of their friends to help the cause…

On the evening of Friday June 5th, just a short walk from Miracle Mile’s art exhibits, The Hotel Saint Michel will host one of the CHG’s popular acoustic/unplugged jam sessions. The jam show will last from 8:00 PM till about 10:30. Admission is free and all ages are welcome to attend. Invited jam guests include members of the band “Pretty On Paper” and local folk legend Valerie Wisecracker.

But wait! That’s not all…

Local record label Tenement Hall Productions of Miami will donate CDs of the band’s thirteen track 2008 release “The Artist” to sell during the show. All profits will go towards benefiting Best Buddies Leadership Conference 2009.

The album was described in a Muse’s Muse Music Review of The Coffee House Gypsies as being “as magical as their name implies.” Miami New Times’ Local Motion said that “Fans of Fleetwood Mac, the Mamas and the Papas, and 97.3 FM should dig this group without question. Their harmonies, both vocal and instrumental, are soothing and give a generally upbeat feel to the 13-track album” and last September RAG Magazine quoted sound engineer Cosmo Ohms saying The Coffee House Gypsies are “nu-folk rock for today’s generation.”

But wait, there is still more!

The band plans to hold a raffle to benefit the cause: all profit made from the sale of raffle tickets will go towards helping send attendees from Best Buddies to the Leadership Conference. One lucky winner will win tickets for two to an Orlando Florida theme park and another will win a two night stay for two at the luxurious Hotel Saint Michel!! Winners will be announced at 10:00 at the event and tickets are expected to sell for a mere $15 or $20.

Not bad huh?

The event was organized by the band’s lead singer/songwriter, Albert Damian Mata, in collaboration with Hotel Saint Michel and Tenement Hall Productions, LLC. When told what the band was doing to help Best Buddies with their Leadership Conference the activities coordinator for the non-profit, Liz Smith (who coincidentally happens to also be a loyal fan and a regular at CHG concerts and jam parties) said “It is just all sorts of cool!”

Mark, the general manager for The Hotel Saint Michel, explained that he had been trying to set up an event with The Coffee House Gypsies for some time, so when the opportunity to do this with them presented itself he was more than happy to jump in. “My son was actually very involved with Best Buddies when he was in high school a few years back, so I personally know all the good that they do. We at Saint Michel are just very happy to help.” The hotel has volunteered to serve free cheese platters while donating one dollar to the cause for every alcoholic drink sold during the show.

Acoustic/unplugged jam sessions and performances are nothing new to the now pop-rock band. They started out performing acoustic shows in local coffeehouses such as Joffreys and Luna Star. “We used to hang out at a local Starbucks writing music… the regulars got to know us and nicknamed us ‘those coffeehouse gypsies’ and the name stuck.” That is what they told The Miami Herald’s Rayme Samuels last November when they were given the title of The Herald’s ‘Band of The Hour’. Since then they have blossomed into a full rock band, playing bigger venues and shows alongside acts such as The Spam Allstars, Locos Por Juana, Jahfe’, and City of God, and even headlining at shows such as The Tobacco Road 96 Anniversary Celebration.

“We still do private parties and acoustic jam sessions a lot though,” the band’s Alex Norris says, “Its fun for us and our fans love it.”

Online one local fan blogs about how “they host private house jams for their fans and they throw huge parties where everyone gets to hang out and sing along with them” while another fan (Hector) posts, “The full blown electric shows are great. But I will always perfer the acoustic jam sessions. That’s when you really get the feel of what this band is all about. The intimate, candle lit rooms full of friends, family, fans and other local artists is really an experience that shouldn’t be missed.”

Most recently Mata made a surprise cameo appearance in Tampa and “jammed” with singer/songwriter Bradley Ashby at Beak’s Old Florida on May 29, 2009. The two harmonized on songs by Incubus, Melissa Etheridge, Fleetwood Mac, and Tom Petty. They even did some original songs such as Bradley’s “Its Raining Now.” Bradley kept telling audience members, “Believe it or not none of this is practiced or rehearsed” to which Mata replied “This is what jamming is all about, baby.” The crowd cheered the duet’s performance. “I still can’t believe that Albert Damian from The Coffee House Gypsies is here” said Bradley into the mic.

And so on June 5th the Gypsies will once again “jam” for an audience. No fancy effects, no electric distortion, no reverbs or delays, just good old passion for music.

“Our goal is to try to raise $1,000 in one night.” says Mata. “If we can generate enough money to send just one more kid to that conference it will be a really great accomplishment, I will personally be very, very happy with that.”

And The Gypsies are no strangers to supporting local causes neither. Since 1997 they have been active in the community with causes such as HIV & AIDS Research, Cancer Research, Local Emerging Arts and Local Independent Music, Support for US Troops, Equal Rights & Human Rights/Amnesty International, Batten Disease, Eco-Awareness & Conservation, Support for Local Animal & Pet Lovers, and more.

“As far as we can tell we only have this one life here,” says Mata, “So why not use it to try to make as many good things happen as possible?”

The acoustic/unplugged jam concert event for Best Buddies will take place on Friday, June 5th at 8:00 PM at The Hotel Saint Michel located at 162 Alcazar Avenue in Coral Gables. Donations can also be made online to the Best Buddies Kintera Fundraiser Page.

About Best Buddies: Best Buddies International is a 501©(3) non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. The Leadership Conference is a once in a lifetime experience that unites students from around the globe. Student leaders are trained on the importance of friendship and how to lead their chapters to success. For more information, visit or contact Liz Smith at Best Buddies.

About The Coffee House Gypsies: The Coffee House Gypsies is a pop/rock band based out of Miami, Florida. They released an EP/LP in 1999 titled “In Tenement Halls” and later released an acoustic CD titled “The Excalibur Sessions” before being featured on the dance track “Run Along” by club music producer Kevin Michaels. In 2008 the band released a full length album titled “The Artist” and in May of 2009 they began working on a new album scheduled to release Summer 2010. The band is on iTunes, Napster, mySpace, YouTube, CDBaby, Rhapsody, eMusic, SnoCap, and more. For more information contact Tenement Hall Productions, LLC at 305-987-3785 or visit the band on

About The Hotel St Michel: Hotel Saint Michel is a historic boutique hotel with an old world style, located just 2 blocks North from Miracle Mile in Coral Gables it provides a charming European elegance with authentic English and French antiques, artwork, and ambience. They offer complimentary continental breakfast and morning newspaper to all their guests. For more information please visit or call 305-444-1666.