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It Takes a Village: Reed Thomas Lawrence and other regional musicians play for Haiti 

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The last time we wrote about a benefit concert for Haiti (Rise Up International's event at the Domino Room), there were predictions that news about the impoverished country and the devastating earthquake that killed so many of its citizens would soon vanish from the headlines. At that time, just a few weeks after the January quake, this didn't seem possible. But just this has happened - Haiti isn't in the regular news cycle that anymore.

In Bend, there have been continuing efforts and special events to raise relief money for the country and its people, but it seems even talk of those efforts has quieted down. This is all changing this week, however, with perhaps the largest-scale Haiti relief event coming to Bend on Friday, the Bend for Haiti benefit at the Tower Theatre.

"The tagline [for the concert] is 'The pain remains after the headlines change.' There's other stuff going on in the world, and, of course, you've got Chile's earthquake now, too," says Justin Lavik, a pastor at the Antioch Church and owner of Muffintop Records, a locally based music label, who helped organize the event. Lavik is also known for his work with the concert series at the Kilns bookstore.

Music has long been a fundraising force in Bend and Lavik realizes that, and is planning to continue working on charity shows in Bend, hoping by fall to kick off a series that benefits local causes.

The idea for Bend For Haiti grew from the marketing- savvy mind of local musician, Reed Thomas Lawrence, who wanted to put together a benefit show, but didn't know where to start. After approaching the Tower Theatre, Lawrence was led toward Lavik and the locally based charity World Relief Next, which will be the beneficiary of the concert. Now, they've got a show featuring local and regional artists, as well as an after party lined up at the nearby Liberty Theatre. After ticket sales and donations, Lawrence and Lavik hope to have raised some $20,000 for WRN, an organization that has been on the ground in Haiti for 15 years providing relief and development work.

"I've learned how much work it takes to make something like this happen. It took [Lavik] and all these other great people to make it happen. You've got to have a village to do something like this," says Lawrence, who will make one of his first local appearances in some time at the benefit.

In addition to Lawrence, a longtime Bendite who has toured nationally with his blues-influenced pop songs, the lineup also includes Oregon pop-meets-reggae act Rootdown, which has played a steady string of shows in Bend over the years, blues rock guitar master David Jacobs Strain, as well as Bend's Eric Tollefson, who will be joined by his band.

Up until this week, Lawrence and Lavik were working to get a big name on the bill, looking at acts from around the county and were close to landing Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters. Securing a big name is tough, but even tougher when you're short on time and trying to make sure booking costs don't detract from the overall fundraising aims. But in the end, they had to go with a more regional approach.

"It's the nature of natural disasters, you never know when they're going to happen, but those big names are booked for months in advance," says Lawrence. "But it should be cool in terms of the diversity we'll see. Rootdown brings a certain crowd and David Jacobs Strain is going to bring a following, too."

Big names or not, the Bend for Haiti show does feature the sort of eclectic lineup that will draw in local concert goers, as well as those who want to give some money to a worthy cause.

Bend for Haiti

7pm Friday, March 19. Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St. $35. All ages. After party at Liberty Theater, 9:15pm. $15. 21 and up.


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