Arts community comes together for Irene relief

Having left a trail of destruction in its wake, Hurricane Irene has done its best to unsettle residents throughout Vermont. Yet she was unable destroy the sense of solidarity and generosity throughout the Burlington community, as suggested by the recent wave of relief events and benefit concerts that have been put on around the city. Nectar’s and Club Metronome held a benefit concert featuring scores of acts from around Vermont that joined together for an afternoon and evening of shows on two different stages. “Burlington is such a tight community that when something like this happens, people will hear about it and join together in amazing ways,” event MC Tito Keefe said. A majority of the staff at the event were volunteers, including Healthy Hippie founder Taraleigh Weathers, who set up the auction and contacted all the companies about donating products. Thousands of dollars of merchandise were donated from companies such as Burton, Seventh Generation, Outdoor Gear Exchange, Wanderlust, Garcia’s and Tradewinds, as well as work from photographers Sam Hoffman, Brian Jenkins, Judy Fenton and Greg Gouwens. Tickets to Fenway Park, Higher Ground and a season pass to Nectar’s were also available, yet arguably the most sought after items were two posters from Phish that had been signed by the entire band. As noted by the auction’s curator, “every penny counts.” When it comes to aiding those in need, each certainly does. One hundred percent of the proceeds from ticket sales and the auction, as well as 10 percent of the bar sales at Nectar’s went to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund — a fund that was created by the United Way of Vermont in cooperation with Vermont Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and Vermont Emergency Management, according to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund website. A number of other music and art benefits are being hosted around Burlington to support those suffering at the hands of Irene as well. Another benefit event was put on by the Burlington Ensemble at Champlain College. Proceeds from this event went to the Intervale Center Farmers’ Recovery Fund, which in this case, gave money to farmers whose crops were destroyed by the flooding of the Winooski River, Burlington Ensemble co-founder and violinist Michael Dabroksi said. At $10 a ticket, the event raised $5,530 to benefit the farmers. Local artists Katherine Montstream and Bonnie Ackers also donated paintings to be sold at the event, according to Dabroksi. Other benefit events included a Rubblebucket and Ritmo Masacote concert at Higher Ground on Sept. 16 sponsored by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and number of other Vermont businesses and a Phish benefit concert, among others.