Musicians for Tuscaloosa: Local Musicians Coming to the Aide of Alabama’s Tornado Victims

It may take many years for tornado torn areas in Alabama, such as the city of Tuscaloosa, to rebuild. In the weeks since the April 27th tornado outbreak, efforts have been taken to help the victims recover.

All over Alabama, local artists have become frontrunners in the efforts to raise money for tornado relief. Through their music, they help encourage others to donate to the cause so that Alabama can begin to rebuild.

The below video, a collaboration of four R&B/hip-hop artists (a2z, Silent D, Michael Battito, and Kadesh) is one such example of the efforts of local musicians. They wrote and performed this song and put together the video. According to the information they provide, all proceeds from downloads of this 99 cent song will go toward relief efforts in Tuscaloosa.

Keith Moody at the Rocking for the Red Cross in Montgomery, AL

Alabama songwriter/singer Keith Moody organized the Rocking for the Red Cross Benefit, a 3 concert tour which began in Nashville, TN on May 19th. Two following shows were held in Montgomery, AL on May 22nd and Fairhope, AL on May 30th. The latter two shows featured Alabama natives. At the Fairhope show, Keith Moody told MSNBC that, “We raised $3,000 in Montgomery, $1,200 in Nashville … Hopefully, if we can get anywhere between that, I would love to match the total so far.”

According to his website, the benefit has raised over $4,000 so far, although there has been no confirmation on an exact amount.

This past Friday, June 7th, Buffalo Wild Wings in Trussville, AL, held a benefit concert featuring four bands from around the Birmingham area. Recovery Alabama reports that 100% of the proceeds from food and alcohol sales would be donated to the tornado relief. This event, hosted by Erica with Erica Soulshine, also included the sale of t-shirts designed by Natalya Spicker and signed by the bands, and face painting for the kids, as well as text-based scavenger hunt and a raffle.

An American flag is attached to a tree in a tornado ravaged area of Eclectic. / Amanda Sowards Advertiser

Perhaps the largest benefit concert in Alabama to date has been the Roll Tide Relief Benefit Show, held in Tuscaloosa, AL, the city most damaged by the April 27th tornadoes. From 2 P.M. on June 4th until 2 A.M. on June 5th, 50 local bands performed at 5 venues in Tuscaloosa. For $10, music lovers could purchase a wristband and visit as many shows as they desired. 100% of the proceeds went to the United Way of West Alabama.

The amount of money raised for the benefit was not made immediately available.

A group of University of Alabama students and local community members organized the event to help raise the money to rebuild their city. The event organizer, Anne Miles Wilkerson, told Ben Flanagan of al.com, “As residents of Tuscaloosa who were here during the storm, we are in awe of the amazing generosity and compassion of this city and cannot wait to enjoy the day with our friends and neighbors.”

(RTR Promotions)

Like the community, the musicians were also eager to help out in any way they could. At the Rocking for the Red Cross Benefit show in Montgomery, the owner of the Rock Bottom Pub, where the event was held, told The Local Scene that he had to stop calling musicians because too many were agreeing to come perform.

At the Roll Tide Relief show, local musician Blaine Duncan (frontman for Blaine Duncan and the Lookers) told Ben Flanagan that, “soon after the tornado struck and the realization set in across the community that a lot of people were in need, our bass player, Kendall Rich, said to me, ‘If there’s any kind of benefit, I’d be willing to play it.’”

He added that, “Priority number one is to get everyone back on their feet, which I hope this benefit accomplishes.”

Indeed, that seems to be sentiment of many local musicians who are singing their hearts out to help the victims of these tornadoes.

It will be a long time before things return to normal in Tuscaloosa and other parts of Alabama that were affected by the tornadoes. But thanks to the support of so many wonderful musicians, the venues that support them, and the wonderful people of Alabama, there has been a positive start to the rebuilding efforts.

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Rocking for the Red Cross

On April 27, 2011, a deadly tornado outbreak struck the deep South, taking at least 280 lives across 6 states. More than two-thirds of those deaths occurred in Alabama. Parts of 31 counties were utterly destroyed. One of the hardest hit cities in Alabama was Tuscaloosa. Entire neighborhoods were decimated by a tornado that spanned a half-mile with winds that likely exceeded 200 mph. At least 53 people died in that tornado, many more injured, and so many more left without home, possessions, cars, jobs…

MFD and The Keith Moody Band

Among the first to arrive in Tuscaloosa that night was the Montgomery Fire Department. They arrived around 11:00 pm and worked tirelessly along with other local Fire Departments to offer aid to the survivors and help search for those who were missing.

A short time after, Alabama native Keith Moody contacted Vinnie, the owner of the Rock Bottom American Pub in Montgomery, to set up a benefit. That was the same day that Vinnie had opened a notebook to start brainstorming ways to help the tornado victims. Together, they set up a benefit concert to be hosted by the Rock Bottom to raise money for the American Red Cross, with 100% of all donations to be given to the Red Cross to help with the clean up efforts in the wake of April’s tornadoes. At one point in the planning, as Vinnie told me, he had to stop calling bands because everyone he contacted was more than eager to come out and play.

In all, 12 acts – 6 acoustic and 6 bands – were scheduled to perform. This included musicians from all over the Deep South; some, like the Keith Moody Band, from as far as Nashville. The bands included: Wes Darnell, Wax, The Keith Moody Band, Leg-N-Liquor, Benny & the Jets, Mama Said, Blanton, Sam Marshal, Angels Landed, Lucky, Charlie C and the Cuzamatics, Zac Young, and Nick Gill. Instead of a cover charge, those who came were asked to make donations.

The music was, simply put, amazing. As promised, the music was non-stop from noon until the end of the night. While the bands inside were setting up or tearing down, you could venture onto the patio and listen to acoustic sets. Every single artist there had terrific talent, and I was amazed by the pure energy of some of them, especially by Benny and the Jets and Charlie C and the Cuzamatics. I also found a new obsession with the Keith Moody Band, as they played primarily originals (something I’ve been dying to hear since I moved to Montgomery). The night was brought to a rocking finale with the ever talented Mama Said.

Legs-N-Liquor "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

However, as talented as everyone was, one of the musical highlights of the day came when the vocalist of Legs-N-Liquor invited a little girl up to the stage to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” between bands. This little girl, along with another who was too shy to get up on stage, danced their little hearts out to Legs-N-Liquor, and even had the chance to go up on stage and dance with the vocalist on one of the songs. The entire bar melted at the girl’s sweet voice as that short song whispered out over the sound of cameras snapping.

The musicians weren’t the only ones raising money for the Red Cross. The bar owner’s 6-year-old son, Riley, also played a huge part in raising money by setting up a lemonade stand inside the bar. That’s right, this benefit concert had it’s own lemonade stand! On a hot May day in the Deep South, with temperatures climbing into the upper-90s, that cool, quenching lemonade hit the spot. In all, this little entrepreneur sold 102 lemonades. At 50 cents a glass, he earned $51 dollars for the Red Cross.

The benefit concert was an outstanding success. Over $3,000 were raised. This was the second of Keith Moody’s three benefit concerts, the one before in Franklin, TN, and the next will be on Memorial Day in Fairhope, AL.

The tornado season isn’t over yet. Just this past Sunday, a monstrous F-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, MO, taking over 100 lives, making it the deadliest tornado since 1953. Already, at least 487 people have lost their lives to tornadoes this year alone, and many more have lost their homes. It’s never too late to volunteer or donate to help the victims of these disasters.

The Red Cross is always taking donations. Or if there’s a different charity you’d rather donate to, go for it.

Until next time, stay safe and keep rocking!