Benefest, an annual charity concert featuring a variety of local music acts, takes place this Friday and Saturday at the Union Bar in Athens.
The event has been hosted by both Casa Cantina and the Union since 2011 and is intended to raise money and awareness for both The Gathering Place in Athens and the after-school program at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville.
The Gathering Place is a non-profit organization based in uptown Athens that supports adults in recovery from mental illness. The Opera House’s nonprofit after-school program provides local youth with musical instruction, particularly teaching students how to play and produce rock and roll music.
For the last nine years, Benefest has been organized by WLCI 97.5, the student-run radio station at Hocking College’s School of Music. Scott Winland of Blackout Booking coordinated the first Benefest with his students at Hocking to provide experience in event planning and to promote student involvement within the community. Winland has booked music at the Union Bar for many years.
“Benefest was created to offer students of our music program (at Hocking College) a hands-on learning experience organizing and managing a two-night live music event that benefits the community,” Winland said. “Benefest offers a service-learning component that integrates meaningful community service and civic responsibility into the project.”
While the event aims to benefit local nonprofits and offer students hands-on experience, Winland said, it also provides local performers a platform to share their work with the community.
“It truly is a great showcase of local and regional talent that also shines a spotlight on the creative hardworking students in our program,” Winland said. “These folks have done an amazing job organizing the event this year, putting together a diverse line-up of performers playing for some great local organizations that do so much for our area.”
Twelve acts have been confirmed for the ninth annual Benefest, including newer bands such as Infinite Improbability Drive and Sneakthief and returning Benefest acts such as Gudger and The Gatherers. Among the other bands on tap: Gorilla Party, Takata Airbags, Tomorrow Daily, Innocuous, Kaiba, Jeremiah Hayes and Sunboats.
Along with live music starting at 8 p.m. Friday at the Union, a raffle will offer donations from nearly a dozen local businesses. Prizes include various community T-shirts and gift certificates to local stores and restaurants.
All proceeds from the event will go to The Gathering Place and the Stuart’s after-school program. While the recommended donation is $5, all those in attendance are encouraged to donate what they can.