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Grace Potter plays a trio of benefits for flood relief

10/13/2011

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By Lisa Loomis and Kara Herlihy

The Valley’s own Grace Potter played at a trio of local benefits for post-Irene flood relief, helping to raise over $300,000.

Potter, lead singer and founder of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, grew up in Fayston. She returned to her hometown and state last week where she played at two sold-out shows and made a surprise appearance at a third fundraiser.

This Monday, October 10, Potter performed an acoustic set before an audience of 200 at a brunch at Sugarbush that resulted in $210,000 for the Mad River Valley Community Fund’s flood relief fund.

On a perfect blue-sky autumn day, with kids on Sugarbush’s zipline flying by against the backdrop of the ski trails, Sugarbush president Win Smith welcomed Potter and those present at the Gate House, including U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (D) and Potter’s parents, Sparky and Peggy Potter.

He introduced Mark Grosby, chair of the Community Fund’s board of directors, who reported that the fund has received $860,000 in donations. Grosby read several thank you letters from people who have been helped by the flood, including one that read simply “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I am speechless."

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Participants at the brunch performance were treated to a meal featuring primarily local ingredients and then treated to an hour of Potter playing and singing. Potter performed the majority of the noon show solo and was then joined by Nocturnal drummer Matt Burr. She played a host of current and past hits, including a song she just wrote, inspired by the flood, entitled “The Mad Mad River.”

Tables for the event sold for $25,000 and individual tickets were sold for $1,000. Those in attendance were a mix of local business leaders, local and national politicians, Valley residents, out-of-state visitors and flood victims. Sugarbush staff and event planners deftly handled seating the range of guests at tables where people knew and did not know each other, resulting in an eclectic and fun seating situation. 

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“We had two goals in mind when we were putting this event together: We wanted to raise a significant amount of money for the flood victims. We also wanted to celebrate the coming together of this community—that spirit of “neighbors helping neighbors,” which has never been more apparent. It’s what makes this Valley so special,” said Win Smith.

The night before the fundraiser at Sugarbush, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals played to a full house at the Flynn Theater in Burlington for their Goodnight Irene Flood Relief Benefit Concert.

When that show sold out, Vermont Public Television (VPT) arranged for the show to be webcast and linked to a call-in fundraiser. Response to the October 9 webcast was so high that Vermont Public Television’s server crashed briefly but was restored by the time the band took to the stage. Thousands tuned and many contributed to flood relief with VPT raising nearly $28,000 by phone and online during the two hours of live coverage.

The band had hoped to raise $100,000 from the concert and related auctions and those funds are still being tallied. Funds raised from the Flynn concert and VPT webcast will go to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund and the Mad River Valley Community Fund.

In addition to the Burlington and Sugarbush concerts, Potter made a surprise, unannounced visit at a Waitsfield benefit last week where she debuted her “Mad Mad River” ballad before an enthusiastic crowd who gathered for “Valley Night, a big benefit.”

The Big Picture Theater hosted “Valley Night, a big benefit” last Wednesday, October 5; the event raised $28,000 for the Mad River Valley Community Fund and featured local bands The Big Basin Band, The Detonators, Phineas Gage and 440Hz.

The Valley played host to several flood relief fundraisers over Columbus Day weekend; tag sales and live music events raised thousands of dollars to benefit the Mad River Valley Community Fund.

A Moretown raffle raised $8,105 for three families affected by flooding after Hurricane Irene. Sponsors donated prizes including a Sugarbush golf round, a junior lease ski package from Infinite Sports, a photo shoot by Barrie Fisher and a Mad River Glen ski pass.

Last weekend’s flood relief tag sale at the Mad River Garden Center raised just over $4,000. The greenhouse was full of items including children and adult clothing, housewares, toys, games, books, shoes and more.

Everything was free to those affected by the flood or in great need; all other items were “pay as you see fit.” All proceeds went to the Community Fund. The volunteer-staffed event lasted from last Saturday to Monday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Mad River Music Fest that was originally scheduled for September was held last Saturday at the Lareau Farm Pavilion from 2 until 10 p.m.

The live music lineup included Abby Jenne and the Enablers, Sara Grace, Miriam Bernardo, Andrew Moroz, Rasta Man Aniev from Jamaica, Scott Forrest, Colleen Mari Mays, Makuru with William Noel & Friends, Last October (with Erica Stroem & James Kinne) and Mark Lester.

Also, the new brew from Long Trail, “Good Night Irene,” was poured at the event that drew hundreds of attendees to the Lareau Farm.

The music fest raised approximately $6,000 total; $3,000 will go to local restaurants, $2,000 to the Community Fund and $1,000 to local farms affected by the flood.

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