“Let’s play some music, make some money, and give em’ the money.”
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The Concert for our Neighbors will take place on Feb. 20 at 1:30 P.M. at the Arvada Elks Lodge. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/concert-for-our-neighbors-tickets-252180387327
It wasn’t quite that simple for Hazel Miller and company, but the result might not be far off.
Miller, a singer whose performance credits include Red Rocks and the White House, has spent the last few weeks tirelessly organizing a benefit concert, dubbed the “Concert for Our Neighbors” to aid those affected by the Marshall Fire.
The benefit is set to take place on Feb. 20 at the Arvada Elks Lodge. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go to victims of the Marshall Fire, with Brighton-based nonprofit Let Your Light Shine taking on the task of allocating funds to families affected by the fire.
In addition to performances from Miller and local acts Twenty Hands High, Dive Bar Diva and Soda Blue, the benefit will also include a silent auction and food trucks. 100% of proceeds will go to victims of the fire, according to the event’s organizers.
Miller said she was inspired to help because the fire hit close to home.
“We were on stage at the Broadmoor (Hotel) doing a private party and my guitar player got a text from his dad, whose house was just blocks away from where the fire stopped…We found out the next day that his dad’s house was ok, but we also found out about a week and a half later that an old friend of ours — 25 years we’ve known this guy — was the first person they found dead,” Miller said.
The proximity of the tragedy hit Miller hard, and she found herself waiting for an opportunity to help the victims, something she believed the Denver music community would have done in the past.
Her phone didn’t ring.
“I kept watching the newspaper and listening to the news — 20 years ago, the day after the fire, every musician in town would have been calling each other to say, `Hey let’s do this.’ No one was calling me to say anything. I was not happy. I couldn’t figure out; am I being left out? Then I realized that maybe no one was talking,” Miller said.
At that point, Miller decided to take it upon herself to do something. She isn’t alone in her efforts. Joining her cause are Arvada mainstays Debbie Hansen, owner of La Dolce Vita Coffee Shop in Olde Town, as well as fellow musician Warren Rubin, an accomplished guitarist and soundman known to some as `The Amp Whisperer.’
“You had me at Hazel,” Rubin said.
Rubin added that although he wasn’t as closely tied to fire victims as Miller, he felt a neighborly urge to help, nonetheless.
“When you read about something like this in the paper and it happened in another state, it’s nowhere near as impactful as if it happens to your neighbors,” Rubin said. “It was so close; it was a scenario I had never imagined. So, even though I don’t know anyone there personally, they’re my neighbors.”
The trio began planning about a month ago, an intensive process Miller and Rubin say they had little experience with. Luckily, Hansen knows her way around a fundraiser.
“I knew I wanted to do more than just give,” Hansen said. “In the past, I’ve organized fundraisers, but this is my first time working with a nonprofit and doing it to this scale. It’s been a learning experience, but it’s coming together great. I know this is going to be a great show.”
Miller called a number of local nonprofits to see which would be the best fit for the event, and settled on Let Your Light Shine due to the organization’s grassroots feel - husband and wife duo Ellen and Marc Kammerzell run the nonprofit, which usually works with those experiencing homelessness, with the help of about 20 volunteers.
Ellen Kammerzell said Let Your Light Shine has 137 verified families on their list and will work with each family individually to allocate funds. Kammerzell added that when Miller first called, she thought she was being duped.
“To be honest, I thought it was a scam, but it wasn’t. It was the Miss Hazel Miller who wanted to partner with us in this amazing event to help those affected by the fire, so how can I not say yes to that? It was really easy,” Kammerzell said.
While Miller’s notoriety has surely garnered the concert some additional perks, both she and Rubin credit Hansen’s work behind the scenes as the driving force of the event. For her part, Hansen prefers to defer recognition to others.
“Debbie is the motive force behind an astounding array of good things that happen around here,” Rubin said.
“We ought to start calling her `Queen Mother’ just to piss her off,” Miller quipped.
“I could go for that — from a distance,” Rubin said.
“Out of swinging range. I ain’t stupid,” Miller concurred.
Tickets and other information for the Concert for Our Neighbors can be found at arvadansinsupport.org.
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