Displaying items by tag: benefit concert

  • Published in Music

Word on the Street: Picking up the Pieces

"credit" Jeff HarpHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/28/13) – The last couple of weeks have been really hard. I’m not only speaking for myself here, but for many others as well. Recently, our local music community was stricken with heartbreaking news: one of Hopkins County’s most talented and genuine individuals had been taken from us. This loss has made a huge impact on me. This tragedy has deeply affected the lives of many people I hold dear to me.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Nobody likes to talk about suicide. Why would we? It’s a dark topic that is easily avoided. Suicide rarely comes up in conversation. Nobody likes to think about the disturbing depths a person can sink to. We wrestle with our own forms of loneliness and despair on a daily basis. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that a close friend, or a family member for that matter, could be in such a hopeless place that they feel they have nowhere to turn, no other option.

"credit" Jessi Smith
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I didn’t see it coming. None of us were prepared for this. How could we be? A sharp, sudden, emotional impact—then hollow silence. That's how I felt when I was hit with the news that Landon Miller was gone. I am still waiting to regain my balance. I don’t know how long that may take. What I do know is that I, like many of us, have been searching for closure. Up until recently, I had turned up little to nothing.

"credit" Jessi Smith
After Landon’s funeral was over, we were informed that the service had concluded as we all stood graveside beside our longtime friend. The heavy atmosphere stuck to me like humid glue. My feet refused to budge. Nobody was moving. We all stood there shattered, confused, drained, empty, and emotionally wounded. I couldn’t leave. It just didn’t feel right leaving Landon up there on that grassy hill all by himself. Shouldn’t he be following the rest of us out of here? He’s part of our crew, after all. Closure—where is the closure?

"credit" Jessi Smith
I’ve been searching for that closure ever since. I know I am not the only one. I’d hoped the funeral would be the answer, but it left me feeling more discontented than before. It seems to get more difficult as time continues to pass by. The reality is starting to sink in on multiple levels. I will never see Landon Miller again. That fact torments me.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Recently, on Saturday, August 24th, local musicians from within our community came together to collaborate on a benefit for Landon Miller’s family, all of us grieving on different levels, trying to help in any way that we could while attempting to make sure that things were being handled respectably.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Many of us were quick to pick the benefit apart. It was going to be an all acoustic show? Is that what Landon would have wanted? GypsyLifter wasn’t headlining? That just didn’t seem right either. Did all of the performers have a personal connection to Landon and his family? How could this benefit be improved? I was right there with them, infected with sadness, selfishly pointing out what I would do differently if it were up to me.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Regardless of my confliction, I went to honor Landon and to support his family, as well as other mutual friends and musicians. Upon entering the Green Dragon Tavern, I was surrounded by friends, and music filled every bit of the remaining space.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Now, it has been scientifically proven that music has healing properties. Studies have shown that music levels out anxiety, causes the brain to release the feel-good chemical dopamine, and has an association with higher levels of immunoglobin A, an antibody linked to immunity. Even if I hadn’t been aware of that fact, I still would have realized that the music emanating from the Green Dragon Tavern was healing me.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Once there, I wasn’t worried about whether or not the benefit was an all-acoustic show. I wasn’t concerned about the band line-up or any of the previous flaws I had managed to dredge up in my grief-inflicted state. I was completely immersed in the therapeutic guitar riffs, the restorative powers of well-written lyrics, and the many soothing hugs from friends and loved ones.

"credit" Jessi Smith
The most memorable part of the benefit, for me, was when GypsyLifter took the stage. Although their familiar sound was indeed altered by the lack of their late friend and bassist, Landon Miller – aka “the original groove mechanic” – his spot was filled by his equally talented older brother, Faren Miller. It broke my heart, yet simultaneously comforted my soul, to see this band, left to pick up the pieces, putting everything they had out there for the whole audience to see. Equally so, to see Faren onstage, honoring the life of his little brother by playing a familiar song Landon had written so many years ago. The group was utilizing the stage and the music as a way of getting one step closer to closure, while supporting the audience as well.

"credit" Jessi Smith
I know for a fact that hearing “Crutch” was a moment in time that I never will forget. As soon as I heard the first two notes of the song, I started frantically motioning to Sugg Street Photographer Jessi Smith to catch it on video. This is a song easily recognized by anyone who knew Landon. It’s a song of Landon’s that many have loved for a long time. I wanted this moment captured, and I wanted to be able to share it with those of you who I know will hold it near to your hearts.

"credit" Jessi Smith
To everyone who came together and participated in this benefit to support Landon’s family during this difficult time, I thank you. To those of you that are still hurting, I am hurting with you. I wish I could tell you that this pain is only temporary and that your emotional wounds will heal with time, but I am not in any position at this point to do so. What I can do is provide you with this article, which I’ve written out of love for a very dear friend. I will continue to support Landon’s family, as well as GypsyLifter (Chad Estes, Randy Stone, and Michael Miller), who I also consider Landon’s family, in any way that I can. I can share photos of GypsyLifter at the event and I can share a moment in time. Below this article I have included an embedded video of GypsyLifter, as well as Faren Miller, performing “Crutch” at the benefit.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Closure? I’m still searching for it and it may never come. I’m sure it will be a long painful process at best. The greatest outcome I can see coming from this heartbreak is that the community has truly come together out of both love and necessity. As artists and friends, we support each other, but it’s easy to forget just how much support we are truly receiving from one another sometimes. We have been able to grieve as a family of friends and to recognize each other openly in ways we haven’t before. It is so important to let others know how much they are truly loved and cared for. That being said, if you need a friend, you can call on me, and I’ll be there. Lord knows we could all use a shoulder to lean on from time to time.

"credit" Jessi Smith
Below you will find some links to previous articles both by and about Landon Miller:

RabCab Rock & Roll Review - Soundgarden, "King Animal"
RabCab Rock & Roll Review - Avett Brothers, "The Carpenter"
RabCab Reccomendation - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
GypsyLifter - It's Good to be Home
Creating Community with Electric Synergy
Gear Guide - Landon Miller's Custom G&L

Sugg Street Post
Written by Jessica Dockrey
Photos and video by Jessi Smith

  • Published in Music

Area Musicians Unite to Support Family–Photos and Words

HOPKINSVILLE, KY (1/30/13)—On Sunday, January 27th, over 20 area performers and bands—19 of which played onstage—as well as many caring volunteers, came together at Hopkinsville’s historic Princess Theatre to help raise funds for the family of the late Anthony Burton.

As became apparent while attending the event, the support area musicians and unpaid organizers were able to offer the worthy cause, on a Sunday no less, was overwhelming—and truthfully, quite moving. In an age when face-to-face communication is waning and digitized music dominates the worldwide scene, it was inspiring to see so many people performing back-to-back live sets while working hand-in-hand toward a common, benevolent goal.

And the teamwork ultimately paid off in full.

Hundreds of area residents showed up throughout the day-long benefit and donated a generous, collective sum of $2,000 for Anthony Burton’s family.

Anthony Burton’s grandfather, Quick Fire band member, and “Jamming for Anthony” co-organizer, Mike Braswell—who performed on guitar alongside singer Misti Long Wagner at the onset of the benefit concert—says that the cooperation he witnessed during the event was a direct reflection of how powerful the area music scene can be.

“We are all a tight community when it comes to working with each other, and it was so nice to have all the performers and volunteers come to my need without a question. And I would have done the same for them,” says Braswell. “The people that came out and helped really are beyond compare, though. I loved all the support and it turned out to be an awesome experience.”

Echoing this sentiment, fellow organizer and longtime musician, Mike Thomas, offers up his own take on the success of the concert.

“I was just proud to be a part of it. I was blown away by the support our local musicians provided. They not only lent their talent to the event, they also lent their names, which attracted a lot of people. They posted and reposted the event link on their websites and Facebook pages; they shared their gear; they donated money; and my favorite one, they did not complain. They just got up and did their thing,” explains Thomas. “We musicians are a picky bunch when it comes to our ‘sound,’ and although the stage sound was far from perfect, everyone just pressed on. I had the privilege of hearing every band and was not disappointed by a single act.”

What’s more, Thomas points out that hosting the event on a Sunday yielded a rather unique overall show.

“Some of the coolest aspects of this whole thing was that it was held on a Sunday, there was no alcohol involved, and a lot of the band members were able to bring their kids, which is something many of them rarely get to experience,” says Thomas. “Seeing kids digging on their mom or dad’s music was truly awesome. At one point, Anthony’s little sister was even dancing on the food bar—what a sight that was! There was such joy coming from such a tragedy, and that is the beauty of what we are able to do as musicians.”

A lineup honoring all the bands and performers that offered up their musical talents at the show is as follows: Misti Long Wagner (featuring Mike Braswell); the School of Hard Knocks (formed by Sam Brown, Scott Stevens, Chris Utterback, and Mike Utterback just for the benefit show); Pat Ballard featuring Johnny Keyz and Mollie Garrigan; the Mission of Love Trio (Dave Elliott, Brian Sidebottom, Sherry Barnes); The Cold Stares (Chris Tapp and Brian Mullins); Ray Ligon; Junk Munky (John Valentine, David Stevens, Larry Shewey, and Keith Porter); Patrick “Patson” Richardson; JT Oglesby; the Alonzo Pennington Band (Alonzo Pennington, LJ Granstaff, and Andy Torian); Steppin Stone (Steve Ruby, Jeremy Winstead, Andy McChesney, and James Painter); the Mason Dixon Band (Rickie Ford, Bob Ford, Tracy Hardison, and Bryan Powell); Pillar of Fire (Richie Ford, Allan Black, Matt Sisk, and Travis Franklin); Set In Stone (Aaron Patrick, Michael Piper, Cortland Moore, and David Martin); the Hollywood Gutter Rats (Jon Gilbert, Brian Higgs, and Derrick Sorrells); Junction 41 (John Thompson, Larry and LJ Granstaff, Cody Kirby, and David Bowles); Redneck Riot (Mitch Dupree, Mike Thomas, David Bowles, and Cody Kirby); Falter (Brad Wilson, Adam O’Rear, Kevin Offutt, John Pierce, and Bryan Thomas); and Livewire (Steve Robinson, Louis Duke, Bryan Powell, and John Hancock).

The PA system used during the benefit was donated by musicians Rickie and Bob Ford, while the bass guitar rig was provided by Tracy Hardison. Additionally, Keneuk Helton, who was unable to play, donated his intricate drum kit, which was used throughout the show.

Outside of musicians, the benefit received help from a variety of volunteers as well, including members of the Christian County Air Force ROTC, which were encouraged to pitch-in by Stan and Veronica Widmer. Thomas notes that both Stan and Veronica also helped to grill food in the rain throughout the entire event.

And while the event has come and gone, there are still several ways to show your support for the Burton family during this difficult time. If you’d like to donate, you can visit the official “Jamming for Anthony” site by clicking here. You may also send checks to Anthony’s father, Tim Burton, at the following address:

Tim Burton
320 Grand Orchard Dr.
Hopkinsville, KY 42240

For more information, please contact Mike Braswell via Facebook or by phone at (270) 484-6937. You may also view a previous Sugg Street Post article about Anthony Burton and the benefit concert by clicking here.

Additional photos taken during the event—which feature The Cold Stares, Patson, JT Oglesby, Pat Ballard (featuring Johnny Keyz and Mollie Garrigan), Ray Ligon, the Mission of Love Trio, Junk Munky, Mike Braswell (with family), Brian Greer of Fighting Fate, and some unique sights at the Princess Theatre—are attached below.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Luke Short

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