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Concert raises money on anniversary of Gulf oil spill

Portland group plans 13th event to aid hard-hit region
by: Tribune File Photo Portland-area artists plan a concert Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Portlanders have raised money to help victims of the spill for the past several months, including this event in August.

Last year, Portlanders channeled their love of music, food, art, education and activism to help raise thousands for recovery efforts in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Tonight, Portlanders will get to show their love again at the mother of all gulf fundraisers, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the oil rig disaster.

The benefit concert, 7 p.m. at the Alberta Rose Theatre, features music by jazz legend Reggie Houston and four of Portland's top piano players, Janice Scroggins, Andrew Oliver, D.K. Stewart and Steve Kerin.

As a musicologist, storyteller and sax player, Houston will trace the development and influence of New Orleans on American music - jazz, big band, blues, rock and beyond - from the 1870s to modern times.

The benefit also features the premiere of 'Beyond the Spill,' the haunting documentary film that follows the journey of PDX2GulfCoast, a Portland group that spent 10 days in August 2010 documenting the impacts of the event on the people, wildlife and environment.

'It's a huge tragedy, but there's a huge opportunity embedded in that tragedy,' said Gov. John Kitzhaber, who participated in the documentary and is helping to promote the event. 'One of the central challenges of our time is to raise awareness of the dependency we all have on fossil fuels and how we can change that.'

Documentary debut

Wednesday's show will be the 13th concert organized by Gulfsongs Oregon, a Portland nonprofit formed a month after the oil spill as way for local artists and others with connections to the South to pitch in. The 12 concerts, which have included about 30 local artists, have raised $8,000 so far. The money has all been sent to Bayou Grace, a nonprofit that helps gulf residents recover from the impacts of the spill.

'It's about building community,' says Deal, a Portland producer with roots in New Orleans. 'We've found tremendous traction here in the Northwest.'

Houston, a New Orleans-born musician who's lived in Portland since 2004, says he's enjoyed seeing the local community step up because reliance on fossil fuels is a universal concern.

'The same forces that allow a government to sanction slavery are the exact same forces that are at play today,' he told the Tribune. 'We're exploiting human beings and destroying traditional lifestyles … to fuel someone else's richness.'

Besides the film, PDX2GulfCoast this month is releasing its gulf-focused curriculum and a book, 'Oil and Water,' which debuted at Stumptown Comics Fest this past weekend.

Local educators and community members gathered at Keen footwear in the Pearl District last week to launch the curriculum, aimed at high school and college students as well as anyone else interested in leading a more sustainable lifestyle. The nonprofit Northwest Earth Institute is using the materials in a new discussion course, on the Web at http://nwei.org/just-below-the-surface.

The trailer for the documentary that will debut Wednesday night can be seen at www.uncagethesoul.com/gallery/beyond-the-spill/ .

The nonprofit Northwest Earth Institute is using the materials in a new discussion course, on the Web at http://nwei.org/just-below-the-surface.


Concert for the Gulf

The concert is at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) Wednesday, April 20, at the Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 N.E. Alberta St. Tickets are $15, available at albertarosetheatre.com or at the box office. Minors are OK with an adult. Also see www.gulfsongsoregon.org or www.pdx2gulfcoast.com .