Devastating funding cuts have the management of a local homeless shelter singing the blues, but they’re hopeful that the same music genre is the key to keeping the doors open.

Ascencia, a 40-bed facility and Glendale’s largest homeless-services provider, is used to organizing fundraising dinners. Recently, however, federal cutbacks have left the center more than $100,000 in the red, said Executive Director Natalie Komuro.

She said her husband gave her the idea for a blues concert, which ultimately led to putting together the inaugural Ascencia Urban Blues Festival to be held on Aug. 29 at Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood.

“What other genre is a better fit for us … It’s about real life,” Komuro said.

Ascencia’s facility at 1851 Tyburn St. is open to men, women and children and houses about 1,200 homeless people every year.

While blues music typically focuses on people going through tough times, it’s also about those willing to fight to overcome challenges, Komuro said.

“There are certainly tales of woe, but if you listen enough, you’re going to find stories about strong survivors,” she said.

The festival’s headliner will be renowned guitarist Walter Trout, a blues musician for more than 50 years. Trout recently returned to touring after receiving a liver transplant last year.

After word got out he would be the main act, others started asking to join. Eight other blues groups will be part of the all-day event, including Guitar Shorty, Arthur Adams, the Americans and the Scorch Sisters.

The festival will start at 11 a.m. with each act performing just under an hour.

Tickets are $35 for adults. Children get in for free.

Komuro said her goal is to raise enough to cover the gap caused by the funding cuts.

“We’ve never had such a shortfall … If we could raise that $100,000, we would be tremendously thrilled,” she said.

At this point, the fundraising effort is all about working to keep Ascencia’s doors open, Komuro said. The situation will have to be evaluated after the blues festival, she added.

For tickets and more information about the event, visit urbanbluesfest.com.

By Arin Mikailian

 

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