news\ Sep 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Voodoo Fest 07: SCEA VIP Party With Spoon

November 1, 2007

Voodoo Fest 07: SCEA VIP Party With Spoon
Louis Bedigian

During the second night of Voodoo Fest, Sony Computer Entertainment America hosted a special concert with Spoon to support the New Orleans Musician’s Relief Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping musicians whose lives were effected by hurricane Katrina.

The crowd couldn’t wait to get inside.

“We started the fund two days after Katrina hit,” said chairman Jeff Beninato. “We were on vacation [in Chicago] and watched it all go down. [Karen, co-chairman] quit her job the Friday night before the hurricane hit. She was going to start another job two weeks later.”

But she didn’t. They instead chose to start the fund and have been working hard to support New Orleans musicians ever since. “Technically I’m still on vacation,” Karen jokes.

“We went out on the streets of Chicago and passed out flyers,” Jeff continued. “Got on WGN, brought a guitar, started traveling, did old New Orleans songs, and makin’ awareness. Before we knew it we had $30,000 in the bank.”

Soon Wilco called and offered to put on a show for the fund. That concert and other donations added up to about $170,000. Jeff said that they “started kicking it out ‘cause we had so many friends that were still out there. They had families and trying to figure out what they were gonna do. We sent ‘em cash. If they needed food, a hotel room, go, spend it.”

They continued touring to promote the fund and didn’t get back home for almost three months. But it’s been a rough journey that’s far from over. “[New Orleans is] a long way from coming back,” Jeff reminded us. “You look at the French Quarter and it’s cool and it’s beautiful. But you go five miles that way and it’s devastating. There’s nothing there. Just slabs.”

“Street signs are handwritten,” Karen adds. “They made ‘em because they couldn’t take it anymore.”

The show was held at the famous One-Eyed Jacks bar in the French Quarter. Proceeds were donated to the New Orleans Musician’s Relief Fund, but Karen wants everyone to know that Katrina didn’t solely hurt New Orleans musicians – the problems are much deeper than that. “If you’re concerned about the safety of the ports, this is the port,” she says. “If you love coffee, if you love oil, [both] come in from the port of New Orleans.”

Jeff and Karen hope to have other New Orleans Musicians’ Relief Fund shows in the near future. For now, however, REM, the Kaiser Chiefs, Edwin McCain, and other artists have donated music tracks to the fund, which can be downloaded at

Previous stories from Voodoo Fest 2007:

Voodoo Fest 07: Trombone Shorty Interview

Voodoo Fest 07: Music Wrap-Up

Voodoo Fest 07: SingStar Stage

Voodoo Fest 07: The PlayStation Experience


Photos and Story by Louis Bedigian.

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