The flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee wrought a scene of devastation that many NEPA residents had never seen before. For Kingston native reggae artist George Wesley, though, it was a tragic flashback.
“I witnessed and actually worked in Agnes (the record-setting flood event) in ‘72, when I was 18,” he explained. “I remember it very well. These are the kinds of things that are only supposed to happen once in a lifetime.”
Now, Wesley is hoping to do his part once again. He is one of several local musicians contributing to the relief effort by performing at benefit concerts throughout the area. On Sunday, Oct. 9, Wesley will join an eclectic line-up of six acts playing at the River Street Jazz Café in Plains. Proceeds from the show will be donated to the Wyoming Valley chapter of the American Red Cross.
In recent weeks, similar events have been held at the Genetti Conference Center, Liam’s Place and Redwood Art Space in Wilkes-Barre. Area artists, it seems, are eager to provide whatever consolation they can to the flood’s many victims, through both music and fundraising.
“I’ve been affected by flooding before,” said Rob Rosencrans, singer for Skin-n-Bones, a Scranton rock band that will be playing a separate flood relief concert at Diane’s Deli & Internet Café in Pittston on Saturday, Oct. 22.
“The river I live by is only about a third of the Susquehanna, but I know the destruction it can do and it sucks to see people’s lives wiped away.If we can help in any way, that’s what we’re going to do.”
The line-up for the concert at Diane’s is just as diverse as the one for the River Street show and twice as large, with a total of 13 bands starting in the early afternoon and playing through the night. The proceeds will again go to the American Red Cross, and bands are asking their fans to contribute anything else they can spare, whether it’s cash donation, supplies or manpower.
“Every little bit, no matter how small, helps,” Bill Lester, drummer for Scranton metal band Our Ashes Remain, said. The band’s vocalist Jane Moser is also one of the event organizers.
“Every cent we’re making is going right to this cause,” Lester said. “Nobody’s taking a dime. Everyone is donating their time, their equipment. We’re doing okay. It’s these other people who need that money.”
“You can’t say no to that,” agreed Drew Kelly, a folk singer from Scranton on the bill for the River Street show. “You put yourself in those people’s shoes and you know that it’s got to be tough, almost like you’re floating away with the river yourself.”
Tickets for the Oct. 9 concert at River Street Jazz Café are $10. Ages 21+ only, the show starts at 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.riverstreet jazzcafe.com. Tickets for the Oct. 22 concert at Diane’s Deli & Internet Café are $5. Ages 18+ only, the show starts at 2 p.m. For more information, call 570-602-5700.