For the past 10-plus years, I have made a living and enjoyed a social life in the Charleston music and arts community. While not anything close to resembling an artist or a musician, I’ve been accepted into this community with open arms and allowed to find my way and contribute to their world.
In the same way bigots judge people by the color of their skin, too often the music and arts scene are judged by their appearance and by an unfair perception defined by class and culture. However, every time there’s a call to action, one of the first groups to step up is the music and arts community. This is an integrated group that stretches the demographical, socio-economic, and psychographic realm.: long-haired surfers from Folly Beach and weekend warrior professionals from Mount Pleasant, guys who party until 4 a.m. and mothers who are in the carpool line at 7 a.m. Every race, religion, color, and creed is represented.
This community and the best of what they have to offer was no more present than Tuesday night at the Charleston Pour House for their response to the tragic Mother Emanuel shootings: the Don’t Tell Me This Town Ain’t Got No Heart benefit concert. In less than five days, the Pour House staff and music community put on an event to raise money for the church and the victims’ families, with the grand sum of funds collected totaling over $30,000 from ticket, bar, and auction sales. Yes, bartenders worked for free with all of their tips going to the charity. Musicians, some of whom cancelled paying gigs, played voluntarily. Some showed up after midnight as they returned from earlier gigs.
I was a very small part of the organization simply because I helped with some bookings, but that small part allowed me to see the back of the operation. From the bands and musicians to the sound engineers and the staff, every email, social media thread, and phone call was the same: “What can I do?” “What do you need from me?” “Where can I help?” “Tell me what to do and where to be.”
I have never been more proud to be a part our music community. I have never been more proud to be a Charlestonian. And Don’t Tell Me This Town Ain’t Got No Heart is proof alone that music really can heal.