DMB relief: Show raises over $1.25 million

The hurricane ruined John Chassaniol's family home in New Orleans, so he volunteered with the Red Cross in nearby Baton Rouge for a few days. Then he decided to relax a little– with a 20-hour drive to Colorado to hear the Dave Matthews Band.

"I had to get out of town to lift my spirits a bit,'' Chassaniol said between sets at the September 12 concert by the New Orleans-based Neville Brothers and Matthews' band.

Chassaniol, a Louisiana State University junior, and six friends made the long drive and managed to find scarce tickets to the show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre just west of Denver.

Matthews was already scheduled for three concerts at Red Rocks when the fourth was added to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. Promoters said the sold-out, five-hour show raised at least $1.25 million, which was to be donated to charities designated by Matthews' band.

Tickets ranged from $58.50 to $1,000. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper told the crowd it was the "most completely donated show in history.''

The city, which owns Red Rocks, waived the seat tax and rent. Dozens of workers, from police, firefighters, and paramedics to stagehands, concession stand workers, and parking lot attendants, donated their time. First Data Corp. bought tickets for hurricane evacuees staying at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver.

Matthews, who introduced the Neville Brothers, told the crowd of about 9,500, ``This is just part of an effort– I think on the part of everybody in the country– to rebuild one of the cultural centers of the world to its former grandeur.''

Audience members, already on their feet to dance and cheer, seemed to get even more enthusiastic near the end of the show, when keyboardist Ivan Neville and other guests came onto the stage to play a 20-minute version of Bob Marley's ``Exodus'' with DBM.

Aaron Neville, who closed his band's set with an emotional version of ``Amazing Grace,'' said he believed much of his home was under water and he hadn't heard from many of his friends. He and his brothers are donating a portion of their record sales toward the relief effort, and they appeared in several other charity shows.


John and Kim Buggenhagen, from the Denver suburb of Littleton, bought a pair of $500 tickets to the show.

``We could afford it, and wanted to help,'' he said. ``It's a cool way for us to give some money.''

Abby Jameson, 21, a senior at Colorado State University, took up an impromptu collection from people sitting around her to buy T-shirts and beer for Chassaniol and some of his friends.

``We're college students and can barely afford it,'' said Jameson, who also donated diapers, canned food and other supplies to the relief effort. ``But it's worth it.''

Dave and friends' sold-out show benefited Katrina victims.