SPRINGFIELD, MASS. — On any given night in Western Massachusetts, there are as many as 2,900 homeless individuals, according to the Springfield-Hampden and Three-County Continuums of Care.
Longtime local musician John Cantalini finds those numbers alarming — and he has decided to do something about it.
“Throughout the pandemic, I just kept thinking about how much harder all of this would have been for someone experiencing homelessness,” Cantalini said. “And I had this idea for a benefit concert. So, I finally decided to move forward and try to help make a difference.”
The first thing Cantalini did was reach out to local nonprofit community behavioral health agency Clinical & Support Options, which runs Friends of the Homeless, the largest emergency shelter in Western Mass. Once Friends of the Homeless was on board, he began piecing things together — establishing a venue, securing a mobile stage, and signing on a full day’s lineup of acts.
“There’s a solid, collegial spirt among musicians in Western Mass.,” Cantalini added. “So, I knew we’d be able to piece this together.”
Cantalini’s brainchild, which he has dubbed “ShelterFest,” is a day of local music, food and beer at the Springfield Elks (440 Tiffany St., Springfield). The inaugural ShelterFest will be held Sunday, June 5 from 1 p.m. to 7p.m.
The June 5 show will feature headlining Bon Jovi tribute band Bon Jersey. Also performing will be:
- Peter Newland and RadioXile;
- Cantalini 3 (John Cantalini’s own band);
- Livio Gravini;
- Christina Cantalini & Friends;
- and Scott Main.
“I’m inspired by John’s energy with this,” says CSO President & CEO Karin Jeffers. “We are so grateful for every donation made to our shelter program. But John has gone well beyond a generous contribution. He has poured his heart and soul into this, and it’s going to be an amazing day.”
For the bands’ part, they’re just excited to be a part of something bigger. Bon Jersey lead singer Joe Ventura (who, incidentally, gets mistaken for real-life Jon Bon Jovi on a regular basis) is especially geared up to help.
“I’m from Ludlow, and I’m not ignorant to the problem of homelessness in this area,” Ventura said. “So, when John asked me to perform as the headlining act at ShelterFest, I wanted in. A fun day of good music that goes directly toward helping people nearby in desperate need? Yes, obviously, I’m in.”
Tickets to the June 5 event at the Springfield Elks are $25 and available online at CSOInc.org/fest. All proceeds benefit CSO’s Friends of the Homeless program. The show is “rain or shine” and will feature local food trucks.
ABOUT CLINICAL SUPPORT OPTIONS (CSO)
is a community-based nonprofit behavioral health agency providing individuals and families with comprehensive holistic clinical and support services throughout Western Massachusetts. With 19 locations throughout five counties (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester/North Quabbin), CSO serves nearly 19,000 clients and families annually with a wide range of responsive and effective interventions and mental health, addiction and recovery, and family services. Visit
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