Friday, September 09, 2005

Shelter from the Storm

The same people who produced the post 9/11 televised concert/telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes back in 2001 pulled together a similar show, Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, shown on all of the major broadcast networks and many cable outlets on Friday September 9th. Even some of the performers from the first show...U2, Alicia Keys, the Dixie Chicks, Mariah Carey...returned for this benefit show.

The hour-long show...musical performances interspersed with footage from the aftermath of Katrina and solicitations by stars such as Ellen Degeneres, Morgan Freeman, Jack Nicholson, Chris Rock (who couldn't resist impishly teasing the producers by muttering "George Bush doesn't like midgets" just before getting down to the more serious business at hand), and Julia Roberts... solicited donations for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army (see links below.)

Randy Newman opened the hour at the piano with spare reading of his all-too-apt "Louisiana 1927". This was followed by a rousing version of "One" by U2 with Mary J. Blige.

Alicia Keys was joined by Shirley Caesar, Alvin Sawyer, Eric McDaniels, and a choir for the super-charged gospel of "Remember Me"

Neil Young brought a quiet vibe with the delicate yet stately "When God Made Me" backed by a small choir, while Mariah Carey, backed by another choir featuring children, seemed a bit off during her gospel number, "Carry Me Home".

The Foo Fighters tore into an energetic version of "Born on the Bayou", one of two John Fogerty songs that were part of the program.

Paul Simon offered a tender version of his own "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" which featured a jumping coda by a crack Dixieland band that I think (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong) was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The Dixie Chicks were joined by Robert Randolph for the heartfelt "I Hope" while Rod Stewart was joined by a group of R&B singers that I did not recognize (and I'm sure I'm going to kick myself when I find out who they are) for the gospel-tinged "All Aboard/People Get Ready".

Sheryl Crow sang a lovely version of "The Water's Wide" while Kanye West, on his best behavior, performed the anthemic "Jesus Walks" (with some new rhymes written specifically for the disaster) surrounded by yet another choir.

Garth Brooks came out of "retirement" to perform the other Fogerty song of the night, "Who'll Stop the Rain" (his fiancee Trisha Yearwood was among the trio of backup singers.)

Dr. John closed the show at the piano with a bluesy stroll through Fats Domino's "Walkin' to New Orleans".

It was a nice little show for a grand cause.

As of this writing, Shelter from the Storm is available for online viewing in the entertainment section of

BET was also running a telethon at the same time but they cut away for the hour to carry this show along with the other networks.

On Saturday night, MTV, VH1, and CMT teamed up for a 4-hour commercial-free benefit show called ReAct Now which presented a wide-ranging cast of pop, rock, hip hop, R&B, and country acts (Melissa Etheridge and bluesman Chris Thomas King both debuted heartfelt new songs written specifically during the aftermath of the hurricane; other performers included this hurricane telethon queen Alicia Keys along with Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, Kanye West, Green Day, Alan Jackson, U2, Buckwheat Zydeco, Common, Paul McCartney, the Dave Matthews Band, Big & Rich, the Neville Brothers, Beck, Elton John, Kelly Clarkson, Coldplay, Audioslave, and many, many more.) A number of the performances are available as fund-raising downloads (

Hey, the more the merrier...the Gulf Coast is going to need a lot of aid to get back on its feet.


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