Monday, September 21, 2009

Benefit Concert article on Page 1 in The Observer

Benefit concert to raise chorus of support for flood victims
By JOEL CUTHBERT OBSERVER Staff Writer POSTED: September 21, 2009
SILVER CREEK - Soon, our region will ring with the sounds of a community coming together in recovery as area choruses and bands raise their collective voice in a crescendo of support for flood victims.

On Sunday, a benefit concert will be held for flood victims in the villages of Silver Creek and Gowanda, beginning at 3 p.m. in the Silver Creek High School auditorium. Admission to the concert is free, though donations will be gratefully accepted.

Silver Creek Mayor Kurt Lindstrom said the outpouring of support for the village so far has been amazing, adding he's looking forward to the concert.

"It's really been incredible, not just the donations, but where they're coming from, and they're still coming," he said. "... The concert is a really nice thing they're doing."

In the weeks following the Aug. 10 flood, after watching neighbors roll up their sleeves to help one another recover and witnessing the outpouring of support from within the community as well as without, Bud Lowery, director of the Sheridan Community Chorus, was inspired to pitch in the only way he knew how - organizing a benefit concert. Originally planned as a concert hosted by area community choruses, he said the event soon grew to include local bands which wanted to participate and contribute their own particular talents. And just like flood relief efforts up to this point, people will be coming from all over Western New York to play, with one Silver Creek alumnus coming all the way from Baltimore.

Among the groups scheduled to perform next Sunday are a combined choir of the Sheridan and Cattaraugus community choruses, joined by the Silver Creek High School Chorus; Big Bore Brass; and the Dave Golando Big Band.

"The whole thing started as I was sitting for 16 hours without power, feeling sorry for myself, until I found out what everyone else went through," Lowery explained. "... It was just horrible and you felt like you had to do something. I just felt like this was the best way for me to give back."

Lowery couldn't say enough about the cooperative efforts of neighboring residents and communities in spite of the unimaginable trauma they suffered, as well as the compassion and generosity exhibited in the aftermath of the flood. With this in mind, he said the event will focus on the positive aspects of recent weeks - the countless stories of heroics during the storm and the strong sense of community forged in the wake of the flood.

"It's amazing to me to listen to all the stories of people helping each other," Lowery said. "... These people here just rolled up their sleeves and started cleaning."

As a tribute to the perseverance of life after tremendous loss, a slideshow of 400-500 pictures of the flood and subsequent cleanup will be projected on the auditorium walls during the concert.

Expecting a good turnout for the event, Lowery hopes the concert will ultimately have therapeutic as well as financial benefits for area flood victims. It's an opportunity for all residents recovering from the flood to come enjoy free music and take their minds off their troubles, at least for an afternoon.

"Maybe, in a small way, it can be a healing process," he explained. "... They ought to really feel good about themselves and how they've helped each other ... I'm kind of hoping that if we get a good crowd, that everybody will realize what a great area they live in."

Immediately following the concert, a reception and Chinese auction will be held in the high school cafeteria. A number of dignitaries - including Sen. Catharine Young, Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, Chautauqua County Disaster Coordinator Julius Leone, Lindstrom and Gowanda Mayor Richard Klancer - are also expected to be present throughout the event to offer comfort and words of hope to residents in these two flood-ravaged communities.