ST. PAUL (KMSP) - As thousands marched in Washington D.C. Sunday to protest the conditions of Puerto Rico, hundreds gathered inside the Minnesota Music Café for a similar cause – the Blues Aid benefit – to extend relief to the decimated commonwealth and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“There are more than 3.4 million Americans down there. They’re our people,” Blues Aid benefit organizer Gary Eckhart told FOX 9.
More than 50 musicians like saxophonist Steve Clarke drew a wall-to-wall afternoon crowd to the café.
“They’re throwing down presidents and at the same time they’re throwing down presence,” he said of the musicians participating in the relief effort, many of whom happily paid a cover fee to volunteer their time and talent.
As the musicians showcased their talents on the venue’s stage for an Artist Jam, women with the Minnesota Blues Society auctioned more than 60 donated gifts as a part of the fundraiser.
“They’re human beings, they’re also Americans, they’re also part of our country, we should be taking care of them,” Clarke affirmed of the people on the islands who all face a rocky and long recovery.
While neither of the folks FOX 9 spoke with at the benefit have direct ties to the islands, they were all on the same chord.
“You get up in the morning, you have a roof you’re your head. You reach over to your light switch and the lights come on, you go turn on the coffee maker it works, this is stuff we take for granted that these folks aren't going to have the luxury of for at least another year or more,” said supporter John Hammer, “We're all one big family, we're here to support each other.”
The six-hour affair proved Minnesota’s Blues community displays its truest colors in times of need.
“When I got to bed at night, did I do something to make the world a better place? If I did, then I can go to sleep. If not, I better get up and go open the door for somebody someplace,” Eckhart smiled.
Blues Aid had no set monetary goal but Eckhart tells FOX 9 every penny will go to Direct Relief.