Longtime local musicians host first public concert to benefit MS

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published August 23, 2023

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TROY — A group of local musicians are taking their personal passions for fiddle and Celtic music public with a performance to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Jokingly calling themselves “Three Jews and a Goy,” the group consists of fiddlers Talbert Stein, of Huntington Woods; Anita Meyers, of Troy; and guitarists Marty and Laura Kohn, of Huntington Woods. The quartet have been making music in their homes and backyards for some 15 years, but they were inspired to use their talents to take action against multiple sclerosis.

“All of us, I think, have a very strong sense of social conscience,” said Meyers. “MS can be a devastating illness. We chose to support that, since it is very well known, and most people know someone who has it in various stages. Our group has some personal connections to it, since important people in our lives have had it. We contacted the National MS Society, and they said they will help us in any way (they) can. … It was our desire to help this cause that made us want to finally play in front of a big, public audience.”

The group will perform at 3 p.m., on Sunday, Aug. 27, at Troy Oaks Community of Christ Church, 3830 Crooks Road, in Troy. They will be joined by bass guitarist Steve Shepard, of Southfield. There is no cost to attend, but donations are welcome, the entirety of which will benefit the National MS Society.

“It will start at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. We will welcome people there and explain what the concert is about and then turn it over to the band,” said Pastor Jerry Van Rossum. “If you are interested in supporting the MS Society with a donation, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so. It’s also a great opportunity to enjoy a wonderful amateur band and take in their wonderful music.”

For years, Meyers, Stein and the Kohns have played simply for the joy of playing.

“One of our guitarists would noodle around on his porch; that was Marty,” explained Meyers. “The Kohns were neighbors with Bert, and he came over and they started talking about music. Marty’s wife and I used to work together. We all got together and started playing together just for the fun of it. At most we would play for some friends at parties.”

Van Rossum said that their desire to try to help those with MS coincided perfectly with his church’s efforts to be more active in the community.

“Anita is a member of our congregation. One of the things I’ve done since I’ve taken over here was (consider) how to make the church more involved in the local community,” he said. “Anita said they were looking to do a benefit concert, and we listened to them rehearse, and we decided to give it a go. … Research shows that those not attending church regularly … don’t know what a church does or what it does for the community, and this was a way we could show what our ministry is about.”

The group’s repertoire comprises traditional Scottish, Irish, English, Canadian and American tunes, as well as some pieces composed by Stein.

“Marty has done a lot of work in bluegrass over the years,” said Meyers. “I think Celtic music is very popular. I have a little Scottish heritage. It’s very appealing music. We enjoy it, and we have a lot of fun playing it.”

Van Rossum also mentioned that those who are interested in the concert or local music in general should stay tuned, since the Troy Oaks Community of Christ Church will also be presenting other musical offerings in the future.

“We’ll have a second concert in November, and that will be by the Detroit Concert Choir,” he said. “They are an award-winning choir and are an amazing group. More details are to come.”

A time and date for the upcoming concert are forthcoming.

Meyers said she isn’t sure if her group will continue playing at other future events but hopes the community will turn out for this one.

“We’re not sure if we’re going to keep playing in front of crowds. If there’s a demand for it, we will,” she said. “This is a chance to have some fun, listen to some fun music, and, at the same time, benefit those living with MS. The MS Society wants to help these people live their best lives, and we would like to help with that, and if possible, help fund research.”