“It’s been truly beautiful watching people bounce back after such a devastating storm,” singer-songwriter Sean Thomas Gerard says, as he and the rest of ILM braced for the followup to Hurricane Flo with Tropical Storm Michael last week. The random acts of kindness and coming together of neighbors have been nothing short of inspiring.
“I know [Wilmington] has always been a strong community,” he continues, “but seeing the kindness toward strangers has really been a thing of beauty. It’s something that initially drew me to the South and something that has kept me in this community.”
Gerard and his band Onward, Soldiers all fared well through Florence; some water damage here and there at homes. Guitarist Lincoln Morris’ amp took a hard hit over at Pyramid Studio. Nevertheless, Onward, Soldiers—along with several ILM bands—are ready to rock again on Saturday at the #OverFlo Hurricane Relief Concert.
“It has been a really stressful month and it is exactly what we (the band) and everyone in attendance needs,” Gerard notes. “We love this city and what it has done for us, so the concert is the very least we could do.”
Started by Wilmington Downtown Inc., #OverFlo is a series of actions, events, donation opportunities, business specials/deals, and more to benefit local nonprofits who have taken a hit from the hurricane. Each week offers various ways to raise money for Nourish NC, Salvation Army, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, Good Shepherd Center, and Cape Fearless Challenge, among others. #OverFlo has a fundraising goal of $100k, and if met, it will be matched by private donor Friends from Iowa.
Gerard works with #OverFlo co-organizer Billy Mellon at manna/Bourgie Nights. As well, Gerard assists with the #SecondStreetMural project, for which all proceeds from merchandise sales also go to #OverFlo currently. “It’s been so successful we keep running out of merch,” Gerard says.
“The mural message is simple: ‘I believe in Wilmington’—especially in these times, we all do.”
Onward, Soldiers will be joined this weekend by The Rachet Bros., Jim Quick and Coastline, The Dung Beatles, and The Phantom Playboys to bring healing music and lift people’s spirits. “We’re planning on playing quite a few brand new tunes,” he divulges. “We only play downtown a couple times a year, so we will be full of energy and ready to rock. We’ll be playing a new song ‘Strange and Electrifying,’ which I think is going to be pretty appropriate for these times and will certainly get people dancing.”
While ILM’s music and arts community has been quick to act post-Florence, Maaike “Maaikebilly” Brandis of The Phantom Playboys notes the local food and drink industry’s contributions as well. Her own downtown bar, Cape Fear Wine & Beer, hosted an #OverFlo benefit on October 13 with Deep River Brewing Company of Clayton, NC, from which they donated $1 per pint sold and Deep River matched it (they raised $160).
“We are all fortunate enough to have fared well through both storms,” she says. “Our singer, The Phantom, had some damage to his house but he is safe. We’re lucky to have not been majorly impacted by either storm and we’re saddened by the widespread destruction and loss of life in our community.”
Ratchet Bros., consisting of Hank Blank, Jones Smith, are happy to be performing and will debut a few new songs as well. “We think overwhelming positivity is a testament to the basic goodness of people, even in politically divided times,” Blank tells. “Right now we’re doing our best to help out our neighbor and our friends, and always looking for other ways to contribute to the Florence recovery effort.”
Everyone with Jim Quick and Coastline also was lucky enough to have weathered the storm safely, too, after evacuating. Their set will include songs inspired by times of unity and community. Tunes like “Turn Me Over” and “Mama’s Drinking Liquor” capture the spirit and pride of the South. “In this time of rebuilding, we will cling to pride and helping others recover,” lead singer Jim Quick says.
In fact, one of their songs, “Carolina Shine” was written upon the return home from Florence. The acts of kindness and generosity inspired Quick and fellow musician Jason Jackson to pen it. It’s a minimum donation of $5 to download (jimquick.com), with monies benefiting TR’s Cancer Fighters, Inc.
“[It] spotlight[s] the amazing resilience of the human spirit and raise[s] money for those in need,” guitarist Casey Meyer details. “We look forward to participating in the #Overflo and sharing our music since most of our songs focus on and are rooted in the very areas affected by this storm.”