Bands, Bel Air Grill work together to aid flood, tornado victims with Rock for Relief

Friday, June 3, 2011
Us Instead, from left, Wes Pind, Josh Lukefahr, Dustin Sitzes, John Litz, Zane McClard. (Fred Lynch)

As quickly as disaster strikes, good people unite to help reknit the fabric of their community. This weekend at Bel Air Grill in Cape Girardeau, some musicians are coming together to entertain with a purpose: helping those in need.

The Rock for Relief benefit concert begins today and continues through Saturday.

At the helm of the planning is Cape Girardeau band Us Instead. After the recent floods, tornadoes and storms took their toll on the area, the band members felt a need to help. As musicians, they decided the best way they could assist others would be to hold a fundraiser involving music.

Rock for Relief will feature Human Zoo and Us Instead today, and Tune Squad and No Filter on Saturday night. It starts at 4 p.m. both days. The benefit will see an array of acoustic musicians, including Bill Booth, Sarah Corbin and Jeremy Paulson throughout the afternoons with the full band performances at night.

Josh Lukefahr, singer for Us Instead, said the funds raised and materials donated will be split between the Red Cross and United Way of Southeast Missouri. The bands are all donating their time and talent for the event.

In addition to the entertainment, they have planned other ways to raise money during the two-day benefit also being billed as a "stock the stage" event where people bring items to donate in lieu of money.

"We're going to have a 50/50 drawing and some raffles," Lukefahr said. "We have some games set up that we're going to play -- five card stud and a heads and tails game. It's all to help raise money for these people."

Bel Air will donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of a special barbecue plate available at the event.

Lukefahr said he was impressed with the amount of donations from local businesses that have been received so far.

"This just came together last week, and we've really got some great local businesses that have stepped up and donated and been very generous," he said.

Ali Osburg is volunteering for Rock for Relief and helping gather donations. She said they have gift cards from many restaurants in the area, as well as items like spa and tanning packages and rounds of golf.

Misty Thrower, owner of Bel Air Grill, said she has been in contact with her distributors for donations as well.

"I sent a text out, and they're all getting golf bags and papa-san chairs and things together," she said.

To get into the event, there is a minimum donation of $5, or people can bring much needed supplies to help "stock the stage," Lukefahr said.

"You can donate an item; basically, a new item like cleaning supplies, personal items like washcloths, diapers, things like that that can really help people out," he said.

Lukefahr said organizers spoke with those working in Joplin, Mo., and were told money is needed more than anything else at this point, but the items donated are greatly appreciated as well.

"If people want to volunteer to come down and help with things [at the benefit], we can use that, and if people just want to drop off an item and take off, they can do that, too. We'll have someone at the door to handle that," Lukefahr said.

This benefit will be the Bel Air's first concert of the season. After complaints by neighbors and eight months of city council discussions and committee reviews, a new type of permit was added to the noise ordinance in April to allow the bar -- and any other outdoor venue -- to host bands.

Lukefahr hopes that the noise ordinance issue doesn't become a problem for this event. Thrower said she has obtained one of the new permits and was given some rules to go by and hopes for a trouble-free weekend.

Though the media focus might be on Joplin and tornado damage, Lukefahr said organizers want to remind people that there are many more affected that need help.

"We can't forget about the people down south of us that have been so affected by this flooding," Lukefahr said. "We want to hit both sides of it."

Thrower said that she had friends from Charleston, Mo., discuss doing a benefit for that area before the tornadoes hit Joplin and other areas.

"When Josh approached me about doing a benefit, we both agreed that our whole state needs help," Thrower said.

"It really doesn't matter if you lost your home because of a flood or because of a tornado, you still don't have a home. They need our help now."

Other fundraising events this weekend

"Fight the Flood" will raise money for the Red Cross Saturday. The concert features Flight Risk, VonAmp, Poten-C, RTR Records, Tha Heatseekas and more from 5 to 11:30 p.m. at Dockside on Spanish Street. Admission is a $5 donation, but canned goods equal $1.

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