DMB Nets $1.5M For Katrina

Dave Matthews Band has always had a reputation as a charitable group, from directly donating to and promoting a variety of causes to having not one, but two, flavors of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream named for it as part of charitable endeavors.

But who knew the band’s power of persuasion extended through all levels of the concert staging process, from promoters to food service companies to union stagehands to cops? Representatives from all those groups donated their services to help raise $1.5 million for Hurricane Katrina survivors in a hastily planned benefit at Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver September 12th.

In addition to DMB, New Orleans’ own Neville Brothers appeared along with surprise guest Robert Randolph and the The John Butler Trio.

Chuck Morris Presents and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper spearheaded the effort to get everyone on board after Morris received a call from DMB manager Coran Capshaw. He asked Morris for help in adding one more show to an already sold-out three-night stand at the 9,400-seat shed.

Morris was only too happy to oblige, and so was the mayor as well as Jack Finlaw, who oversees city-owned venues.

Ticking off the long list of names of the people and companies who donated their time, effort or profits from the show was an effort for Morris, who fretted to Pollstar he probably missed a few.

“It was a magical night. It was a great effort by the Dave Matthews Band, Red Light Management, the City of Denver, my staff, and everybody who worked the place worked for free,” Morris told Pollstar. “And I’m talking about Dave Matthews, his crew, his sound company, his lighting company, his trucking company, his bus company, his catering company and Musictoday.

Ticketmaster gave a check for the fees. Everybody from my organization donated their time. The mayor got free rent for us, and there was no seat tax – there’s usually a 10 percent seat tax – and everyone who worked the building that I called agreed to do it,” Morris continued. “That would include Aramark Sports & Entertainment Services, which donated all their profits.

“The IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) members donated their hours. Contemporary Services Corp., the security company, gave us free security. Our police department did it all on volunteer time.”

Morris even convinced ASCAP, BMIand SESAC to waive their licensing fees for the show, which can run as high as $9,000.

The funds raised go to DMB’s nonprofit BAMA Foundation, which will establish its own Katrina Fund and decide which relief organizations will be the recipients of money raised.

Morris thought a large chunk of the donated cash would go to Habitat for Humanity, which plans to rebuild homes in New Orleans and vicinity, and possibly to musician relief groups.

In addition to a flat ticket price of $58.95, VIP packages that included ski weekends, priority seating and other goodies went for $500 and $1,000, with local corporations purchasing entire blocks of tickets.

“It’s all about the Dave Matthews Band. These guys are the real deal,” Morris emphasized. “They have hearts of gold and they wanted to do it. You know, we had already sold out the first three shows in 11 minutes.

“They said, ‘We’re going to contribute 100 percent of our entire organization and we’d like to see if you could get everyone who works the show to do the same.’ We called the mayor, and the mayor and I just got together and made it happen.”

– Deborah Speer