Benefit concert at Pour House raises spirits, thousands of dollars for Mother Emanuel Hope Fund

Abigail Darlington/Staff Members of Manny Praise Team sang contemporary gospel songs Tuesday at the Pour House’s benefit concert for the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund that featured performances by more than 80 Charleston musicians.

There couldn’t have been a more fitting theme for the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund benefit concert at the Pour House on Tuesday night. The event, billed as “Don’t Tell Me This Town Ain’t Got No Heart,” a reference to a line in the classic Grateful Dead tune “Shakedown Street,” summed up what so many in Charleston have been feeling over the past week: a broken heart, resilience, restored faith in our community, fellowship.

More than 800 people, a dozen businesses and 80 musicians from all corners of the Lowcountry poured into to the James Island venue just days after the event was announced to donate whatever they could to the cause.

Through ticket and bar sales, a live auction and cash donations, the event raised more than $30,000 for the fund, which will cover costs of funeral expenses for the nine victims killed in the mass shooting at the historic church last week. Any remaining money in the fund will be donated to the church.

“Putting together a sold-out show in five days with over 80 musicians involved was no small feat,” said Jessica Wilson of the Pour House, one of the organizers. “We are incredibly thankful for the support of the many businesses and talented musicians who made the benefit concert possible.”

Bands such as Gaslight Street, Dangermuffin, Manny Praise Team, Josh Roberts & the Hinges, Sol Driven Train, Dead 27s and several others played on two stages, often calling up members of other groups to sit in on songs in the spirit of camaraderie.

Mike Sevilli of Dangermuffin, a folk trio based on Folly Beach, said the band didn’t think twice about participating.

“We wouldn’t miss the opportunity to be a part of one the best music communities in the country, especially to come together for something this important,” he said.

Many in the crowd danced and sang along to covers of inspirational songs such as The Rolling Stones’ “Shine a Light” and “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield.

During a song Dead 27s wrote for the victims of the church shooting, several in the audience hugged and threw up peace signs.

“Charleston is all about one love,” said Dell Grayson, who owns the popular Charleston deli Dellz Uptown. “When people can get out and relax and listen to music, that’s what it’s all about. Music rules the world.”

Businesses such as Lee Distributors, Terrapin Beer Company, Southern Eagle, Snyders Event Rentals, Holy City Brewing, Sweetwater Brewing, Charleston Distillery, Get Rigged Lighting and Home Team BBQ all sponsored the event with tents, tables, alcohol and other donations.

Meanwhile, Others volunteered at booths to look after the silent auction, or to sell drinks or wristbands that said “CHARLESTONSTRONG” on them.

Tia Brown and Jessica Lovelace, friends who attended the event together, bought a few of those bracelets and immediately slid them onto their wrists.

“The changes we’ve seen in this state in just the past few days is amazing,” Lovelace said. “I’m so proud of Charleston. We really are Charleston strong.”

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail