After seven years of generously housing and feeding countless touring bands stopping through Baltimore, the operator of local “band and breakfast” Feed the Scene is asking others to pitch in and help give her project a permanent home.
Rachel Taft, who’s run Feed the Scene out of her rented Highlandtown home since 2011, launched a GoFundMe on Wednesday seeking to raise $35,000 to buy the property, located at 3512 Bank Street. The current owners notified Taft of their plans to sell in early July, Taft said in a note accompanying her fundraiser.
“We’ve been very lucky,” she said in an interview Thursday. “Our landlord thinks that what we do is really cool. Normally someone wouldn’t put up with that for seven or eight years.”
So far, the effort has raised almost $3,000 in less than 24 hours.
“We’re extremely grateful for all the support we’ve even already received,” Taft said. “We’re just doing this because we want to keep it so that musicians have a safe place to stay” in Baltimore.
The owners and Taft have drawn up an agreement for her to buy the property and have settled on a closing date—the fundraiser says they have until the beginning of November—and Taft has already qualified for a mortgage. She said the $35,000 would help to pay closing costs and a portion of the sale that wouldn’t be covered by the mortgage, though she is also working on other borrowing arrangements to fill additional gaps.
“Realistically, we need to raise a lot more than $35K, but we did not feel that asking for more than that was acceptable.”
Feed the Scene would normally have more money to contribute, she says, but the organization has recently deposited thousands of dollars into upcoming shows that it’s helping to produce–another piece of the nonprofit’s scope of work–including a Wu-Tang Clan show at The Anthem in D.C. this November, in honor of their debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” along with other shows locally.
“Feed the Scene would not normally have had to ask for help, but because of being in a building phase that involves things like deposits for our shows…all of our assets are accounted for. We’re just asking for help now so that we can help pay it forward later.”
But however much donors contribute to the GoFundMe to help pay for the house, Feed the Scene plans to donate the same amount to local charities in 2019.
Taft moved into the house in 2010, after her mother passed away, and started Feed the Scene the following year. More than 1,200 bands from 26 countries have since stopped at Feed the Scene, according to her fundraiser page.
The home offers a dozen beds–including a room with four sets of bunk beds, plus two sofas that also convert into bunks–to house large groups. Its founder is known for cooking up late-night meals, from vegan-friendly dishes to gourmet meat entrees, for artists after their shows. She’s done it all with her own money, and supported by donations and a team of volunteers. (Feed the Scene currently has six other staffers, paid and volunteer, Taft notes.)
Around two dozen band members and supporters have left rave reviews on Feed the Scene’s Facebook page, making note of the Bank Street space’s cleanliness, Taft’s cooking and the general ethos of it all.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in a city where they have someone like Taft and Feed the Scene providing shelter from the shit storm of the road?” City Paper noted in a 2016 blurb honoring her as Baltimore’s “Best Patron Saint.”
She says the best part of doing all of this is the people she meets.
“At this point, no matter how bad a day I’m having, somewhere between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. a whole bunch of people are gonna show up,” she said, “and they’re gonna tell me their rad stories, and I’m gonna tell my rad stories and the day’s gonna get much better.”
Taft said she’s encouraged by what she calls the “initial burst” in donations 24 hours in, but they will have to wait and see if the flow continues.
“I know our goal is a steep one, and it was a nerve-wracking thing to even put out because that’s a lot of money to ask from people,” she said. “But we sat down and thought about it, and the amount of time, effort and money that I’ve spent on this endeavor in the last seven years is probably seven or eight times that amount of money.”
This story has been updated.