Grayson steps out for an evening of music, compassion
City’s first ‘Gimme Shelter’ concert event benefits Partnership Against Domestic Violence, Grayson Children’s Fund
By Carole Townsend
GRAYSON – On Saturday evening, June 13th, Grayson city park came alive under the glow of twinkling white lights and elegant chandeliers.
Area business owners, citizens and city officials from Grayson and neighboring cities mingled under a canopy of trees, laughter and music floating out over the park on the occasional summer breeze, anticipation building for an event that had been the talk of the city for some months.
Gail Lane, Grayson’s Community Development Director, darted from restaurant booths to concert stage to city volunteers, bringing together the last minute details that would kick off the city’s first-ever Gimme Shelter concert, an event designed to bring the community together and benefit those in need at the same time. The concert, which was just an idea that Lane had several months ago, came to fruition Saturday night with an impressive lineup of rock and blues legends.
“This is so exciting. I remember when I first talked to (mayor Allison Wilkerson) about the idea, she gave me her full support. She just told me that if we were going to do it, let’s do it big.” Lane and her troops of volunteers lived up to their end of the bargain, throwing a city-sponsored event that could easily be described as a cross between a Kentucky Derby party and a marathon ‘80s rock concert. The crowd loved it, and as an added bonus, so did the performers who were there to entertain that crowd.
Cindy Wilson, lead singer of Georgia’s own B-52s and the crowning act of Saturday’s music lineup, summed up the spirit of the evening. “There’s an energy here. It’s fun, but it’s also educational. I’m so happy to be part of this great community event.” The education to which Wilson referred was one of the event’s beneficiaries, the Partnership Against Domestic Violence (PADV), and its self-described mission, which is to “end the crime of intimate partner violence and empower its survivors.”
“Lil’ Al” (Alvin Cordy), bass player and vocalist for the Lee Boys band, showed up Saturday to “jump in and play with other artists as I can. It’s not about the money, it’s about the cause. It’s important,” Cordy said. “I have sisters. I have a mom. This matters.”
Singer Sandra Hall, who brought down the house with her gutsy, soulful voice, said she wouldn’t have missed the event for anything. A performer since childhood (she used to sing at her grandmother’s fish frys, then later with a group called the Soul Sisters), Hall is also a mom and a nurse. “This is what it’s all about,” Hall said, as she wrapped up her performance, headed to another engagement that evening.
Singers Caroline Aiken, Diane Durett and Deborah Reece, who together took the stage first, were excited and supportive of the Gimme Shelter event and its ultimate purpose. “We’re always concerned about women’s health and well being,” said Durrett. “Being a woman and a musician, it can be tough sometimes. We get it.”
Aiken added, “We’re proud to be here, spreading the word and the consciousness of (PADV).”
As one musician, then another, then several together, took the stage on Saturday, the “tail end of the baby boomers” crowd cheered again and again as they heard some of their favorite classics and welcomed music legends to the stage with nostalgic applause. Donna Hall (of the band Wet Willie), Tommy Talton (of the Gregg Allman Band and Cowboy), guitar legend Barry Richman, Anne-Marie Perry, and the Crosstown Allstars rounded out the evening’s entertainment.
Mayor Allison Wilkerson took a moment to thank Lane and the volunteers who put the event together, as well as participating businesses and event sponsors, obviously pleased with the evening’s presentation but more importantly, with the message that the Grayson community sent by hosting the benefit concert. The issue of domestic violence is not often addressed under twinkling lights and with a celebration of music, but it permeates every community and every demographic. On Saturday night, Grayson extended a hand to its survivors, and to area children in need, with grace, compassion and finesse.
Sponsors of the Gimme Shelter concert were on hand Saturday to show their support for the community and for the two organizations that benefitted from the proceeds.
A complete list of sponsors is listed at www.gimmeshelterconcert.com.
Check out all the photos at facebook.com/gwinnett.citizen/photos/