Rock Cares benefit raises $3K for explosion victims

Published 11:27 am Thursday, August 29, 2019

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STANFORD — Vagabond Blue and eight other bands brought music to the ears of many still reeling from the Aug. 1 gas pipeline explosion during the Rock Cares Festival benefit.

For over nine hours Saturday, music lifted spirits as the bands rocked out on stage at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, doing everything to make the explosion victims feel good by raising money for short-term needs.

Rock Cares, the brainchild of Somerset musician Steve Dixon, raised $3,000, and 100 percent of the monies raised will go to the victims of the explosion. Candida Byrd of Helping Hands Family Resource Center in Hustonville is handling the donations.

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“It went great. All the bands played great,” Dixon said. “The crowd really loved it. We played from 3 o’clock until a little after midnight.”

The concert came three weeks after the tragedy that killed one person and injured six others. Several homes were destroyed and left damaged from the explosion and some residents whose homes were in the Indian Camp Subdivision, which was devastated in the blast, have decided not to return.

Dixon, the lead singer for Vagabond Blue, was sitting on his couch at home watching news of the event when he knew he had to do something to help.

“It all got started because my guitarist (Mark Carmen) lives a mile away from where it happened,” he said. “He was fine. Nothing happened to his place, but he was inconvenienced by having to get up and evacuate.”

“I wasn’t planning on organizing anything. Me and my wife were watching the news and she said Mark was on the news about the explosion, and I just looked at her and said I’d be willing to play a festival for their benefit to help people out just because it hit home with me. It just touched me because it was so close to Mark.”

Unsure about how to get such an event organized, Dixon called on some friends for help.

“I made some phone calls to a couple guys and we had six bands on the spot,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to do after that, so I called Daryl Day. I called him on Saturday and we met on Monday. Me, him and Trish O’Quin had a meeting and they just said ‘great idea.’ We got some logistics down and they said they would handle everything – getting location, insurance and handling the advertising.”

While Day and O’Quin handled the venue and event issues, Dixon filled the festival card, eventually getting nine bands on board for the benefit. Potential Alibi kicked off the festival at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by Fired Up, Collective, Raised on Dirt, Gravel Switch, Raven Hyde, Some Rock Band, Gypsy Witch and, in the closing slot, Vagabond Blue.

Brian Simmons of WTLO radio in Somerset entertained the crowd during sound checks between bands, keeping them busy with “Whoo-hoo!” competitions and starting rounds of the wave.

“It was fun,” Dixon said. “When I did get the idea, I didn’t know what to expect but it kind of went viral on the tv stations, newspapers and radio, social media. And it turned out great. I did a whole lot more leg work than I intended doing. I was calling food trucks and everybody, answering calls, doing television interviews … all kinds of stuff.”

During many of those interviews, the one question that kept being asked was “What do you hope to get?” Dixon wasn’t sure how to answer.

‘I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “We were competing with Hank Williams Jr. at Rupp, basketball over in Garrard County, the Somernites Cruise in Somerset and we had the state fair going on. It was a lot of things going on. We probably would have gotten a whole lot more if there hadn’t been so much going on.”

Though pleased with the event, Dixon had hoped for more money for the explosion victims.

“I would have liked to have gotten more for them because they’ve been through so much but that was ($3,000) that they didn’t have to start with,” he said.