For those on the naughty list hoping to get in good with Santa, a live music event to help Hurricane Harvey relief might be the solution.
A relatively quiet week in music surrounding Christmas Day means local music fans can practice some holiday giving to Houstonians in need. Organized by members of rock-soul collective The Suffers with the help from the acclaimed Newport Folk Festival, the With A Little Help From Our Friends concert on Friday, December 22, will benefit those who are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Harvey.
The killer line-up features My Morning Jacket songwriter Jim James headlining, Americana troubadour Shakey Graves and indie-rockers Wild Child, both from Austin, Delta Spirit lead singer Matthew Logan Vasquez, the 60s-retro sounds of singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, rising Dallas rockers The Texas Gentlemen, the artful sounds Joshua Asante and of course, hometown heroes The Suffers.
All proceeds from the show will go towards the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett. The Greater Houston Community Foundation oversees and administers the grant distribution process and 100 percent of the donations received will be distributed to the community for immediate and long term relief efforts, according to a statement.
“It’s amazing that we have so many great acts on one bill coming together for a great cause,” said Adam Castaneda, bass player and co-founder for The Suffers. “It may feel like the hurricane happened a year ago, but it hasn’t. Neighborhoods are still torn apart and people still need help.”
The idea for the show came about shortly after the story hit in early September. The Suffers were set to head to the airport to play a festival slot in Charleston, South Carolina when strange things started happening. Band members started experiencing car trouble and another had a leaky roof from a busted pipe. The increasingly ominous forecast led them to cancel the appearance.
“The universe was telling us not to go to this festival and we are glad we didn’t,” Castaneda said. “We took that financial loss and stayed at home. Our families and our city needed us.”
Band members spent the next few weeks working at shelters, delivering food and dealing with their own clean-up. The one ray of sunshine and hope: percussionist Jose Chapy Luna and his wife welcomed a baby girl, named Valentina, the day Harvey came to town.
The group soon met and started to discuss a more impactful way to help rebuild the community. They decided to reach out to their friends at the famed Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, an event they played in 2015 and in 2016 as an off-shoot concert. Their idea was to curate a concert that could really assist those in need, not just in the weeks following the storm, but in the months after the news cycle moved on.
“We decided to lend a hand not only because it is part of our mission, but because that's what families do for each other in times of need,” said Jay Sweet, Executive Director of the Newport Festivals Foundation, “And everyone involved in this event is Newport Folk Family.”
Newport helped book the acts and Fender put up some of the organizational costs, in addition to working to replace instruments lost in the floodwaters.
“All the acts are donating their time and presence to do the show,” Castaneda said. “Having someone like Newport on our side definitely gave some clout to booking these bands.”
The event will feature a live auction and hopefully the money raised will help bring some families some much needed Christmas cheer.
“We could have done something in the first few weeks but we felt like we wanted to help people who would need it a few months down the line,” Castaneda said. “People still need that help and there is no shame in asking for it. There are resources there for them.”
Newport Folk Presents & The Suffers: With A Little Help From Our Friends, a benefit Hurricane Harvey recovery, takes place at House of Blues on Friday, December 22. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $45 plus fees. For more information on the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, visit https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/nonprofits-grants/.