Multimedia StoryTelling

By the students of MCJ300 at The University of Southern Mississippi

Tornado Benefit Concert Takes the Place of Mardi Gras Party

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Tornado Benefit Concert

Stormy skies and debris littered roads didn’t stop people from piling into Benny’s Boom Boom Room Monday night to support disaster relief efforts.

Less than 24 hours after a devastating tornado ripped through Hattiesburg communities, the Boom Boom Room downtown held a tornado benefit concert to support those who were affected by the devastating natural disaster.

Shortly after the tornado, bar owner Ben Shemper reconsidered the Mardi Gras themed event scheduled to take place Monday night. “There were so many people in Hattiesburg who just lost everything. It seemed really vein to have a big party less than 24 hours after the tornado just because it was Mardi Gras,” he said.

After observing the damage the tornado caused to his hometown Sunday night, Shemper decided to cancel the Mardi Gras themed party and have a tornado benefit concert in its place.“Ben sent me a text right after the I heard about the tornado Sunday night with one word- Benefit?” Jamie Jordan, singer of Recreational Use, said. “That’s all he had to say; I was in.”

There was a five-dollar cover at the door, with all proceeds going towards the disaster relief fund. “I’m personal friends with the guys from both bands,” Shemper said. “Some of them experienced damage personally from the tornado, and they were happy to support the cause and perform for free.”

The bill for the night included local bands The Deltamatics,  Purpetrator, Joel Vance from Rooster Blues and Recreational Use. “I was really surprised at how good the music lineup was on such short notice,” Erin Rauenhorst, Hattiesburg resident, said. “It’s really great that those bands wanted to give their time and energy to do a good thing.”

In addition to the door charge, several people made large personal donations to the cause. “At the end of the night, we had raised over $600,” Shemper said. “The donations were unbelievable.” On top of the money made from door cover, donations and bar tips, Shemper personally matched all the money made that night.

“It’s a warm feeling at the end of the day, when members of a community support each other, and you see so much togetherness and charity. It’s very sentimental to me,” Shemper said. The tornado benefit brought in close to 100 people.

Monday night’s success encouraged Shemper to hold another benefit Saturday night with a portion of the cover charged at the door going toward the relief fund.“After everything, we raised over $1,500 for disaster relief,” he said.

Shemper has not decided where he will distribute the money raised yet. He says he wants to wait and see where the funds are needed the most before he makes a decision.

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Written by Shanning Celeste Newell

February 18, 2013 at 4:43 am

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