After the flood, music and aid flows W atching those images coming out of Southeast Asia a few weeks back no doubt led to a host of emotions–disbelief, sorrow, even anger. But eventually a thought works itself through the tangle: I’ve got to do something. For Gerry Williams, that means making phone calls, sending e-mails, maybe knocking on a few doors. For some Triangle club owners, that means making their places available. And for over a hundred area musicians, that means sharing their talents. “The first step is always finding a place to hold the event,” says Williams, when asked how one gets started on the daunting task of organizing a benefit concert–or, in this case, a series of benefit concerts. He’s been down this road before. Williams and his wife, musician Janet Place, have coordinated several benefits for the Community Independent School and worked with 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows organizer David Potorti on concerts to raise money and awareness. “At the same time, you’re calling some artists and saying, ‘If I get this venue, when are you free?’” he adds, explaining the balancing-act aspect.
As our calendar pages can attest, there’s no shortage of clubs in the Triangle, and Williams soon had commitments from four venues to serve as sites for tsunami aid concerts. Pour House owner Eric Mullen was the first to open his doors, and Marianne Taylor, who books shows at the club, jumped in to start recruiting acts. Cat’s Cradle, Temple Ball and the ArtsCenter in Carrboro quickly followed suit. At the same time, Local 506’s Glenn Boothe was also planning a benefit after hearing from the band Fashion Design, which has two members from Indonesia. When Boothe and Cat’s Cradle’s Frank Heath realized that they were scheduling their events for the same day, they came up with a bit of creative teamwork: a $10 donation and corresponding hand stamp at one of the clubs will also get you into the other club for that day.
Each of the shows will have different musical focuses that, to varying degrees, reflect the personalities of the venues. The bill at The Pour House leans rootsward, courtesy of Kenny Roby, Emily Waszak, Chatham County Line, the Jon Shain Trio, Place’s Brown Mountain Lights and others. The ArtsCenter show will feature jazz, and Temple Ball will be the gathering place for instrumental acts. Cat’s Cradle and Local 506 have indie rock line-ups, with Superchunk, International Orange and Sorry About Dresden just three of the bands scheduled to play.
So was it hard to find artists to play? “As you well know, there are a hell of a lot of talented artists around here, and everybody likes playing,” says Williams. “And I think they see this as a way to give something back.” In other words, nope. It does seem that musicians in the Triangle are as bighearted as they are gifted. They always seem willing to contribute a freebie set or two, whether it’s to raise funds for a school or raise awareness for a cause; pitching in to help a peer with medical expenses, alas, has too become a commonplace event, as has disaster relief. The Pour House’s Taylor pauses for a moment when asked about this generosity of time and spirit, explaining that she’s not sure she can put her feelings into words. But she sure enough can. “I think musicians are so willing to share their talents for various benefits for the same reason that I am so drawn to music and musicians: passion,” Taylor offers. “Musicians are passionate people, and that passion carries over when a good cause comes along that can benefit from a set of their music.”
Below is a list of the locations, dates and times for the events. Admission for all shows is a suggested minimum donation of $10 payable at the door in cash or with a check made out to either The American Red Cross International Disaster Response or The U.S. Fund for UNICEF. A complete list of all the participating acts is available on each venue’s Web site.
There’s also a benefit show at the ArtsCenter on Sunday, Jan. 23, from 2 pm.-3:30 p.m. Performing is Chris Reynolds’ Swing ‘N’ Jazz, with proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity International’s Asia Tsunami Response Fund.
Local 506 operates as a private club; you must be a member to attend shows there. Advance purchase of a membership is required; visit their Web site for details.
Venues participating in the tsunami relief:
Saturday, Jan. 22
Cat’s Cradle: 8 p.m.-midnight www.catscradle.com
Local 506: 2 p.m.-1 a.m. www.local506.com
One donation admits you to both venues.
Sunday, Jan. 23
The Pour House: 2 p.m.-midnight www.the-pour-house.com
Friday, Feb. 4
Temple Ball performance space: 8 p.m.-midnight www.templeball.com
Saturday, Feb. 5
The ArtsCenter’s Earl Wynn Theater: 8 p.m.-midnight www.artscenterlive.org