Good vibrations: Music to soothe miseries


Mission Tsunami
at The English Inn
Sunday, January 30

The response in the U.S. to the great tsunami in southeast Asia has been tremendous. Everywhere you look, there's a benefit or fund-raising event being held in support of the victims and their families. With so many places to give and so many different organizations to give to, who really knows if the people who need the help are actually going to receive it? Thus I've been hesitant, to say the least, at jumping at every billboard/advertisement/flyer with "tsunami" written across the top.

But when news of Mission Tsunami came my way in the form of an invite to my band, I could tell by my first conversation with one of the coordinators that I really dug what they were about. I liked their plan. The man at the helm of Mission Tsunami, David Vanderveer, has family ties in the devastated region and is personally going over to distribute money and goods to the needy. A direct line to the people who need our help the most is really rare, so I jumped at the opportunity to support the cause.

Sunday at the English Inn was the last of Mission Tsunami's fundraising events. Each one has included special performances by the who's who of the Charlottesville music scene, as well as other sympathetic entertainers. I brought my wife and daughter out to enjoy the event, which was a few hours under way by the time we arrived.

We entered the room to the sounds of the Charlottesville Gamelan Orchestra. They are an impressive sight, to say the least, with instruments that look as if they could double as furniture pieces. The various percussion instruments were large, made from elaborately carved wood and what looked like bronze or copper. When played in unison, the spacious arrangements had a soothing effect.

From what I understand, Gamelan music is a spiritual expression, and the songs are written to uplift specific deities. I couldn't tell you what they played or who wrote it, but I do know that the music had an intense calming effect on me. I enjoyed every note I was lucky enough to hear.

After the Charlottesville Gamelan Orchestra completed their performance, I headed to the buffet to munch on food provided by a number of well-known local eateries. I opted for a big plate of palak paneer (spinach and fried cheese) with naan (soft steamed bread) and basmati rice.

There was a magician, Dr. Magic Jr., doing tricks for the children in the room, as well as a beautifully executed traditional Indian dance performed by David Vanderveer's wife, Kamut. We got to hear from a survivor of the tsunami and were told of plans to distribute donations throughout needy regions. Although small, this really felt like a community effort.

At the end of the evening, we were entertained by singer-songwriter Dickey Redding. Dickey is young in the local music scene but really has a knack for writing pop tunes that stick in your head. Normally performing as a soloist (along with his bass), he brought a trio (guitar and drummer) for the Mission Tsunami benefit. Dickey has that not-too-pretty pretty boy image that complements his husky tenor voice. He sings the songs of a lustful longing adolescent that you'd have to be inhuman not to relate to.

His music was the perfect way to end the evening. My wife, daughter, and I went home feeling full and relaxed and definitely like we were a part of something much larger than ourselves.

Dickey Redding and friends perform for Mission Tsunami