Local musicians perform to benefit Dexter, Mich.
While Nicholas Dansby sat under the sun Saturday afternoon reading a newspaper and enjoying a cup of coffee as he often does, he noticed something wasn’t quite the same.
The urban and regional planning senior, who frequently visits Espresso Royale, 527 E. Grand River Ave., to purchase coffee and people watch, said his beverage was much more enjoyable that day because it was accompanied by the sound of music.
“It was good — good background music for reading,” he said.
Dansby was one of several attendees at Rock for Relief: Dexter, which took place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Espresso Royale and from 7-11 p.m. at The Record Lounge, 111 Division St. The concert was held as a part of Record Store Day, which is celebrated by retailers and artists to honor independent record stores by offering exclusive releases.
Last year, in recognition of Record Store Day, Middle of the Mitten Events Executive Director Joel Heckaman hosted a day of live music in East Lansing. The event coincidentally took place soon after a tsunami hit Japan, so he said he chose to turn it into a benefit show.
This year, Heckaman decided to do something similar and benefit the village of Dexter, Mich., which was struck by an EF3 tornado in March, damaging about 100 homes.
“About half of the town looks like nothing ever happened, and the other half just got flattened,” he said. “I thought (last year’s event) was such a great idea that there was no question about doing it again this year.”
The day included performances by about 20 acts, including punk group Tiger! Tiger! and rock band Dogs. In Winter. Several volunteers floated throughout the venue with buckets in which listeners could place donations, and about $160 was collected to be given to Chelsea State Bank’s Dexter branch.
Heckaman said his goal was to give people the chance to enjoy free, live music while also helping others in need. He said the money collected will be given to displaced residents with the help of Chelsea State Bank.
“The idea is that we wanted to support a cause, and we were in the process of deciding what cause to support when the tornado hit,” Heckaman said.
Psychology junior Josh Cohen, who also is the vocalist for funk-rock group Sabertooth Fiancee, said he and his bandmates were excited to be a part of Saturday’s event because it gave them the opportunity to perform for a worthy charity.
“It’s a really noble cause,” he said. “The people who lost their homes, they don’t have anywhere to go, and it’s nice that we’re able to help out in anyway we can. The best way we can help is through our music.”
Dansby said although he wasn’t a fan of much of the music featured Saturday, he enjoyed the community-based atmosphere it created.
“It’s good for bringing people to the area,” he said. “It added a sense of comfort.”
MSU alumna and East Lansing resident Rachel Troutman said she stumbled upon Rock for Relief: Dexter after getting lunch at a restaurant nearby and was glad she did.
Troutman, who also frequently goes to Espresso Royale for coffee, said in all her times at the café, she unfortunately never has seen a show there.
“It’s always nice when there’s live music going on downtown,” she said. “I think it’s great, (and) I wish it’d happen more often.”
Troutman said she appreciated the casual and entertaining atmosphere the event created, and she was even more excited to be able to enjoy the music while being helpful at the same time.
“People are coming and going, (and) you can sit down and appreciate the music if you want to,” she said. “I think that’s even better if you’re having music, and then there’s a charity cause that goes along with it.”