Just a few short weeks ago, Columbia resident Jeremy Polley was watching the news, and it wasn’t good.
“Just after the hurricanes hit … I felt helpless there for a moment. I knew I had to do something.”
Within a matter of days, Polley found himself organizing a full-scale benefit concert, Columbia Rocks for Puerto Rico.
Sunday, Nov. 12, Music Farm Columbia is hosting a full line-up of musical performances, special activities, a silent auction with some high-demand contributions, and a delicious showing of local food truck favorites. All proceeds go to One America Appeal, a bipartisan organization founded by the five living former American presidents.
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It started as an idea, but it turns out the event has struck a chord close to home. “It has been a whirlwind,” said Polley, executive director Alter Ego Productions and a professor of music industry at South Carolina State University. He attributes the event’s rapid growth to some Midlands residents’ close ties to Puerto Rico.
“There is already a large military community in Columbia because of the base, and a large number of Puerto Rican soldiers enlisted through Fort Jackson,” said Polley.
Polley said he started receiving calls from companies wanting to help, but that wasn’t the end of it.
“Every band came out of the woodwork,” he said. “They want to play and help out.”
The music line-up is a mix of tribute bands and local original favorites. Eventgoers can expect to see bigger tribute acts like The Endorphin Machine featuring Eddie Bush (a virtuoso tribute to the music of Prince), Jeremy’s Ten (a Pearl Jam tribute), and Speak to Me (a Pink Floyd cover band).
Among the original local acts include Stardog, a hard-rock regular to the Music Farm; the acoustic trio Raising Apollo; and Eight Track Parade, a new, up-and-coming funk rock group. There will be “very different styles and sounds throughout the day,” Polley said.
While the concert carries on inside, the upper parking lot of the Music Farm will be set up for an extra blast of games and gaming tournaments. Firefly Toys & Games is setting up pinball and arcade machines.
Carolina Adventures will run a football skills drill. Bar Athletes will host a water pong tournament, where all the registration fees go directly to the fundraiser.
If you’re feeling like some quiet competition, the silent auction boasts a number of high-demand items.
Among the most popular draws: A basketball donated by the NCAA-winning USC women’s basketball program (and signed by the coaches); two all-day pinball arcade passes from Firefly Toys & Games; a $200 salon card for Columbia Salons; Oktoberfest Beer Glasses from The Flying Saucer; a guided river tour; and passes to Frankie’s Fun Park.
In the lower parking lot, hungry guests can check out a variety of food trucks.
“Come out,” Polley said. “Let’s have a great day. Play some music. Eat some food. Give and help the community.”
At the heart of this event, there’s really a celebration.
“We’re doing this for a good cause. … After watching Columbia after the flood, I know what Columbia is capable of,” he said. “Coming together. I want to do that again.”
Polley, who has experience working with nonprofits in the past, said he chose One America Appeal because he wanted to find an organization that would ensure 100 percent of the proceeds go to the community that needs them.
The One America Appeal – issued by former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – initially launched in September to support recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey and expanded to include hurricanes Irma and Maria. Funds collected from the appeal go into a special account of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) foundation, which ensures that every cent of every dollar donated goes immediately to hurricane recovery.
Not to mention, Polley quipped, “The fact that you have three Democrats and two Republicans working together on anything at this time is groundbreaking.”
Together with the nonprofit Unidos Per Puerto Rico, One America Appeal is working to ensure donated funds will “help meet the immediate emergency aid needs of citizens,” according to a recent press release.
If you go
Columbia Rocks for Puerto Rico
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. Doors open at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Music Farm, 1022 Senate St.
ADMISSION: $15. Proceeds benefit One America Appeal.
WORTH NOTING: Attendees under 21 must pay a $3 surcharge (cash only) at the door.
The Endorphin Machine featuring Eddie Bush (“virtuoso tribute” to the Music of Prince)
Jeremy’s Ten (a Pearl Jam tribute)
Speak to Me (Pink Floyd cover band)
Hurricane Harvey hit southeast Texas on Aug. 25 and stalled along the coast until its final landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 30. Near Mont Belvieu, Texas, just east of Houston, the National Weather Service recorded 51.88 inches of rain.
Hurricane Irma made landfall Sept. 6 in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Sept. 10 in the Florida Keys, then traveled up Florida’s western coast. The strongest Atlantic-basic hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, Irma spent three days as a Category 5, the longest since satellite storm-racking began.
Hurricane Maria made landfall Sept. 19 in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Sept. 20 in Puerto Rico. The National Weather Service office in San Juan estimated that rain rates approached 5 to 7 inches per hour that day. More than 80 percent of the island’s power grid was affected.
Source: The One America Appeal