Something lost and something gained
VAIL – Diane Moudy had laid awake all night asking God what she should do for hurricane victims when her cell phone rang at 8 a.m. “Somebody said I should call you, and you could help us,” the voice on the other end said.It was Rueben Williams, Tab Benoit’s manager, calling two days after Hurricane Katrina hit. He told Moudy how Benoit, the famed New Orleans guitarist and president of Voice of the Wetlands, had been working in conjunction with other musicians to put on a benefit concert to raise awareness of the erosion of the Gulf Coast wetlands, the city’s only natural barrier against storms. The concert was scheduled to happen in Louisiana in September. But Benoit was too late. The hurricane hit. The show must go on, he told her. The money would benefit musicians who lost their homes amid the rampage. They needed a venue. Moudy had no idea how he had gotten her number, all she knew was that her prayers had been answered and she could help.For the past seven years, the owner of Resort Entertainment and Resort Events has been bringing big name musicians from the streets of New Orleans to the streets of Vail. Not only does Moudy love the music, she’s friends with most of the musicians.”George Porter Jr. lost his home, every single Neville lost his home, Monk Boudreaux is living in a shelter, and Henry Butler lost everything,” Moudy said. “They’ve said to me, ‘We don’t have a home to go to. Our music is our therapy. We just need to keep it going.’ This is what we’re supposed to be doing. There isn’t even a question.”She partnered with Scott Stoughton of 30th Street Productions, who has also been booking big talent from New Orleans for years at State Bridge and Samana, and they began to witness an outpouring of support from the Vail Valley.Before they knew it CME agreed to drive the musicians from Denver airport to Vail, the Vail Valley Foundation would donate the venue and lodging, THD Productions would take care of the sound at the amphitheater, Lone Star Security would keep an eye on things, and Moe’s BBQ and Bagali’s would feed the hungry mouths. A man even showed up at Stoughton’s doorstep with cash in hand to purchase a full-page ad in the Vail Daily advertising the show. And just like that, the Big Easy Benefit found a home in Vail. Organizers hope to raise $100,000 today at the Ford Amphitheater, when Benoit, Boudreaux, Butler and Porter along with Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Waylon Thibodeaux, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone 0 and Herman Earnest, all on the original ticket, headline the Big Easy Benefit with special guests Coolio, Tony Gulizia and American Taxi. With 99.9 percent of costs covered, Moudy said, 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the musicians. Organizers and volunteers say the festival will be a success not only because Vail is such a giving community, but because the community appreciates the music. The money will go far, but so will preserving the culture.”The Voice of the Wetlands is not just about the wetlands itself, it’s about the whole picture, the culture, the music,” Benoit said. “I want to go out there and show that the cultural center of this country is still somewhat in tact, that the music is a big part of that and you cannot kill that.”Crawford Byers, talent booker at 8150 in Vail and Sherpa & Yeti’s in Breckenridge, has plenty of faith for the soulful epicenter of American music. “No city is so wholly based on music as New Orleans is,” Byers said. “I don’t know if the whole city will return to normalcy, but the music will.”Buyers, who’s volunteering his time to the benefit all day today, said he feels there’s a great connection between the Big Easy and Vail. Because of Vail’s proximity to Interstate 70, he said, a lot of great bands stop in while on the road. He’s booked at least 13 bands from New Orleans since spring. He also feels the community embraces music and sees a lot of people from Vail at Jazz Fest every year. “People who are free-spirited and who choose lifestyle over income to live in the mountains tend to be music-loving people, and New Orleans is the music-loving capital of the world,” Buyers said. Whether you’re driving a van full of musicians from Denver to Vail, cooking up a pot of jambalaya or buying a ticket to the show, every little bit helps. And, as many of the organizers and volunteers have found, giving to others is also a means of giving to yourself.”For me to be able to give back directly to New Orleans is huge because of what they’ve done for me,” Stoughton said. “It’s all about the music. It’s truly all about the music.”Good can come from the bad.”Look at the music that they’ve given us over the years. It’s time for us to give back some of what they give to us,” Moudy said. “We’re not doing this just for them. We have to help to help our hearts heal.”Maybe everyone will be sleeping a bit more soundly after this weekend.Laura A. Ball can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 619, or email@example.com.Help Those in NeedWhat: Big Easy BenefitWhen: 12:30-7 p.m. todayWhere: Ford Amphitheater in VailCost: Tickets are $30 for general admission, $45 for reserved and covered seating and $250 front and center, including a special meet-and-greet with the musicians following the show with Cajun food and free wine and beer. All profits from the event will benefit New Orleans musicians. For more information, call (970) 926-7770 or visit http://www.bigeasybenefit.org.
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