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Musicians gather to help tornado victims

By Staff | Jan 20, 2016

CHUCK BALLARO Keith Clanton performs during a fundraiser for tornado victims he organized in the Southwest Cape at BackStreets in downtown Cape Coral on Sunday.

When something terrible happens in Cape Coral, the community has always come together to help those affected get back on their feet.

When a tornado hit the Southwest Cape last week, people throughout the city, and Southwest Florida came together to raise money, clean up, donate and do whatever they could.

On Sunday evening, musicians from all over gathered at BackStreets Sports Bar in downtown Cape Coral for a benefit concert to raise money for tornado victims.

The event featured music, raffles and silent auctions and, despite the short notice, was able to raise approximately $3,000 for those affected by the storm.

“It was awesome for what it was with four days’ notice,” said Keith Clanton, who put the event together. “People were coming and going and all things considered it was a pretty good night.”

CHUCK BALLARO Bill Frey, blues and jazz guitarist, performs during the fundraiser for tornado victims.

Clanton said it usually takes a couple weeks to set up something like this, but since the victims needed the money now, he put it together on short notice. But it was well worth it.

“We were really blessed that this tornado didn’t hit our street. I see everything that happened over there. My father-in-law and brother-in-law live there. It’s pretty nasty over there,” Clanton said. “It’s really cool to see the people come together.”

The musicians performed solo jams and the Clanton Gang performed a set before all the musicians got together and played until midnight.

Bill Frey, a blues and jazz guitarist from Cape Coral via Vermont, said he saw Keith’s advertisement and decided to throw in some help for his fellow residents.

“It’s what we always do. Most of us are kind to each other, so it’s natural that it’s what we’re supposed to do,” Frey said. “As long as we don’t forget two weeks from now that people will still need help.”

Renee Hose, another musician, said if Clanton needs music, she is there.

“I’ve probably done 25 benefits in the last three years. I might not be able to contribute monetarily, so it’s good I can give back,” Hose said.

Among the items raffled off were a Minnesota Twins jersey donated by the team, as well as a Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Bucs jersey. There were also numerous gift baskets, paintings, services and other items available through silent auction.

Companies offered up services, and BackStreets even donated beer sales to the cause. Stephanie Eastman of the Red Cross also did a lot to help, Clanton said, adding she is going to take the money and give it to those who need it most.

“Keith usually plays here on Sunday anyway, so we offered the venue. Something like this sometimes forms its own entity because people are so generous,” said Chris Field, BackStreets manager. “It’s makes us feel great to give people a place to hang out and donate and give back to the community.”

Dawn Gaylor did much of the heavy lifting in getting people to donate items.

“We’re supposed to all love our neighbors and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Gaylor said.

Bonnie Fear, of Fort Myers, brought the jerseys to be raffled off. She was asked by Gaylor to help in any way she could.

“I work in merchandising for the Twins and the team donated a jersey,” Fear said. “There are people who are displaced and this is as catastrophic as a fire. People are in hotels and have nothing. It’s very important to help.”

Betty Jo Ferguson said she was in Estero when the tornado came and heard about the damage from friends who were victims of the storm. Friends of hers had gone out to help clean up, which she was not able to do. She was compelled to donate at the show.

“I could at least make a donation. This can happen to anybody. It’s our community and we care about each other,” Ferguson said. “I hope this never happens again.”