Thirty-five days after the earthquake shook Napa and produced hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, a different kind of rocking came to town – to aid those whom the quake left in need of aid.
A musical bill featuring the bands Michael Franti & Spearhead, Afrolicious and Grass Child drew a sellout crowd of more than 3,000 fans to the Napa Rocks! concert on Sunday. The event at the Napa Valley Expo was the capstone to Napa Valley Rocks!, the four-day festival of music, food and wine that organizers hope will raise tens of thousands for the relief fund set up to help residents and businesses make whole their losses from the Aug. 24 earthquake.
Whether spectators’ routes to the concert passed by the cracked and fenced-off buildings of a battered downtown – or down Soscol Avenue and other routes seemingly unmarred by the temblor – some fans seemed equally willing to lend a hand to Napa, but also to lose themselves in a carefree afternoon of rock.
“We’re here for Michael Franti, but also, we’re supporting this area. We really like Napa and we want to support the relief effort,” James McGuinness said as he and his wife Lynne, San Jose residents, waited for the Expo gates to open shortly after noon.
“After the quake happened, I thought it was cool to support Napa. I’ve got lots of friends and family here – and we’re big fans of Michael Franti, too,” said Brandon Orta of Fairfield, a member of the Napa-based band Deluna.
Proceeds from Sunday’s concert and other events from Napa Valley Rocks!, which started Thursday, are being channeled into the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. The fund, overseen by the Napa Valley Community Foundation, opened three days after the quake with $10 million of seed money from the Napa Valley Vintners.
Estimates of the amount collected during the four-day benefit were not immediately available Sunday afternoon. However, Napa Valley Rocks! spokesman Tom Fuller said the Expo concert’s sellout guaranteed at least $60,000 before concession revenues, while the Nourish Napa! fundraising dinner, which opened the event Thursday night, garnered another $60,000.
Despite a Friday thunderstorm that forced some musicians indoors, the outcome for earthquake aid appeared to satisfy Fuller, the more so because planners and donors had only three weeks to organize the festival.
“In a perfect world, you’d have twice as much time to do half of what we did,” he said. “Everyone’s pitching in where they can, and the amount of emails we’re sending each other is hilarious, but overall it’s been an amazing experience; everyone’s had each other’s back.”
Fuller said it wasn’t hard to find people willing to give their resources or time. “From the first meeting, when we asked people to step up – from the dinner on to the concert – everyone said, ‘Yes, what can we do to help?’” he said,