Concert raises money for Bastrop fire victims

Brianna Pelayo

Texas musical legends Willie Nelson and George Strait donated their time and talent to aid Bastrop residents in rebuilding their community during a benefit concert held at the Frank Erwin Center Monday night.

Fire Relief: The Concert for Central Texas, was proposed by American guitarist Eric Johnson as a way to raise money for the community of Bastrop in light of September’s wildfires.

UT joined with the Frank Erwin Center, The Medina Group, the Austin Community Foundation and various Texas musicians in organizing the event, hosted by screenwriter and actor Turk Pipkin and actor Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights.

“We’ll get through this,” Johnson said. “The sun will shine and everything will be alright.”

According to western musician Ray Benson, Johnson started the idea of getting together the benefit concert in hopes of rebuilding not only the homes of the Bastrop victims, but also their spirits.

“Bastrop county will survive, it will come back from this,” Bastrop fire chief Henry Perry said.

Tickets, T-shirts and all proceeds gained from the concert went towards the Texas Wildfire Relief Fund. About 24,000 people attended the concert and raised about $500,000 for the victims.

The concert began with a performance by Chris Cross and proceeded with performances by Johnson, Benson, Terri Hendrix, Joe Satriani, the Texas Tornados, the Randy Rogers Band, Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Willie Nelson, the Avett Brothers and the Dixie Chicks. George Strait ended the night with a few popular songs and thanked the audience for their support.

“People came from all over the country and all on their own time just to be here for this benefit concert,” Pipkin said.

Pipkin and Chandler encouraged the audience to donate what they could to the relief fund between each act, and short films and documentaries were shown of the victims and their losses. After each film, an advertisement encouraging a minimum donation of $10 to the relief fund was displayed on the screens.

Pipkin said the benefit concert could not have been so successful without the voluntary efforts of the musicians and sponsors.

“The goal was to help people effected by the fire regain their livelihood,” Pipkin said. “This fire is not going to get us down.”