Tornado relief concert resonates for Raleigh band

Posted June 3, 2011 9:19 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2011 1:40 p.m. EDT

— Members of the band Motor Skills gladly donated their time and skills Friday as part of a benefit concert at the downtown Raleigh Amphitheater. They were among 12 bands to perform Friday in a free concert where listeners were asked to donate to four non-profit organizations helping Raleigh residents recover and rebuild in the wake of the tornadoes that struck the city April 16.

The band was eating dinner at Mecca, at 13 E. Martin St., on that Saturday when the storm barreled through. 

"All of a sudden they were saying, 'It's coming,'" Mike Dillon recalled. "It was right outside. Everything shut down all at once, and everything was really chaotic."

Band member Chris Riddle said, "It was pretty scary to be in a basement with the power out and listen to the stuff going on all around us."

Riddle returned home to find his house and car destroyed by the storms, which claimed 138 homes in the city and damaged almost 700. Raleigh had more than $115 million in residential and commercial structural damage.

"We didn't really have anything to give ourselves, but we wanted to help, and when this opportunity presented itself, we thought it was the best way to give back in whatever way we could," Dillon said.

In the audience, residents of Raleigh's Stony Brook North mobile home park celebrated the progress their neighborhood has made in the weeks since the storms. Four children died in the park when a tree fell on the home where they were. 

Sarah Morales and her mother, Sylvia Mitchell, were able to move back into their home with the help of Centro International de Raleigh. The group, one of four beneficiaries of Friday's concert, set up an assistance center at Stony Brook and has distributed more than $750,000 in aid to the residents there since the storms.

Morales has since joined the group in helping others. "You just get this feeling like you can sleep at night, like you've done something good," Morales said.

Debbie Salisbury, another Centro volunteer, called the concert awesome. "I'm really pleased we have the outpouring of support of the city," she said.

Money raised at the "Rise Up Raleigh" event will be split with four organizations – Centro International de Raleigh, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Salvation Army of Wake County and Helping Hands Mission. Donations can also be sent via the Web and by texting the word "need" to 50555.

Other bands performing Friday night were:

  • Raleigh gospel singer Marshetta Parker,
  • R&B band Red Sonja, recent winners of an audition for Simon Cowell's new show, X-Factor,
  • Alissa Morena, the Nashville singer/songwriter whose "Far From Here" is the theme for TV's "Army Wives" series,
  • Siler City's Desafiados Musical,
  • Indie rockers the Young Cardinals,
  • Kooley High, a hip-hop group out of New York by way of North Carolina State University,
  • Folk group The Small Ponds, 
  • Marcy Playground, of the 1997 hit "Sex & Candy,"
  • The Love Language, a popular Raleigh pop-indie band, and
  • The Connells, who have performed on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."