The 5th Annual HAAM Benefit Day, held on Tuesday, September 21, brought in the largest amount of funds ever raised for Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, its member-musicians and the healthcare service programs they participate in: $195,000, the organization reported today.

It was a record-breaking day all around, with the largest number of Austin area businesses making a donation or pledging a portion of the day’s proceeds — more than 200 — and the most musical performances (more than 140) heard on any HAAM Benefit Day.

“We at HAAM are incredibly pleased with the response to the fifth HAAM Benefit Day,” said Keith Carmichael, HAAM Benefit Day 2010 Committee chairman. “The number of businesses and the number of entertainers participating — not to mention the amount of funds raised, the largest ever — shows us how much this city and the people in it appreciate live music and what this organization is doing to make sure it flourishes.”

In addition to acknowledging Whole Foods Market for its generosity in serving for five consecutive years as HAAM Benefit Day presenting sponsor, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians is grateful for the tens of thousands of dollars donated not only by Whole Foods Market but also by C3 Presents and South by Southwest over the years of HAAM Benefit Day.

It also recognizes Texas Heritage Songwriters Association for its donation that matched the contribution of the Austin community as a whole on September 21 as residents ate out, shopped and donated on behalf of their favorite music-makers.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians also announced today the date for the 6th Annual HAAM Benefit Day: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, when business, the music community and residents will again unite to keep music alive and well in Austin.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians provides access to affordable healthcare services to Austin’s low-income, uninsured working musicians with a focus on prevention and wellness. Since HAAM’s 2005 start, more than 2,200 of the city’s battalion of hard-working musicians have joined and gained access to regular, cost-effective healthcare services. Medical, dental, mental, hearing and vision health services are provided by Seton Family of Hospitals, St. David’s Foundation, The SIMS Foundation, Estes Audiology and Prevent Blindness Texas. HAAM’s annual Corporate Battle of the Bands and HAAM Benefit Day have become signature events behind a great cause: maintaining the health of the musicians who help make Austin such an enviable place to live and work.

For more information, to join or to make a donation, visit HAAM online.

We have a huge charity event and watching party coming up for my ‘What Not to Wear’ debut, details on Tuesday, so we found ourselves at Lakewood’s Whole Foods Market to pick up a donation and banner from Whole Food’s Community Relations and Marketing diva, Karen.

Karen invited us back to the fish market to sample some tasty treats from The Little Pearl, a Massachusetts-based caviar company. The first thing that hit me was the smell of their handmade blinis, pillowy soft and served warm we were offered two choices, the honey buckwheat or regular, artisan blini. We decided to try both.

caviarOur blinis benefitted from a healthy schmear with Vermont Butter and Cheese’s crème fraîche and finally generously topped with our choice of caviars: Coho Salmon, Golden Whitefish, Rainbow Trout or Spoonbill Paddlefish. I started with the whitefish, while Karen tried the trout. Both deserved rave reviews for their freshness, subtle clean taste and creaminess. While noshing I learned that a lot of imported caviar is produced using borax, a lovely substance you can find in detergents, flame retardants, insecticides and even as an anti-fungal – YUCK! So The Little Pearl prides itself on offering non-boraxed (Is that a word?) caviar.

When I explained that I’ve always avoided the larger sized caviars, such as salmon and trout, because of the mouth feel they might have, I was encouraged to get over myself and try the Coho Salmon. To my delight the eggs popped vibrantly in my mouth and were buttery delicious. Gratefully, the treats were on the house, but man did I wish I had the scrilla to snap up a jar of the reasonably priced Coho, a bag of the blinis and a small tub of the crème fraîche, but that would have set us back around $40, doing serious damage to my sweetie’s comic book budget. However, if you find yourself a little financially healthier, and a fan of caviar, you can find The Little Pearl’s offerings at any Whole Foods Market in Texas.

From the fish market, we moved along outside, taking advantage of Whole Food’s Friday Night Live happy hour event. With great jazz and glasses of wine at just three bucks a pop, we settled in to celebrate the end of a long work week. With the addition of a loaf of Whole Food’s sourdough bread and their creamy garlic and basil dip, the five of us were able to enjoy an evening out at Whole Foods for just under 30 bucks total.

The next Friday Night Live kicks of at 6 p.m. and always features live music from local artists. For a budget-friendly night out on the town, might I suggest you grab a date or a good friend and graze your way through the store, and join everyone on the patio?