HAMLET — The smell of Boston butts grilling on the the back porch filled the air and the sound of guitars was resonating inside The Sports Connection on Saturday as the bar played host to a benefit for a local musician.
Daniel Branch, guitarist for River’s Edge, lost nearly everything he owned — aside from the clothes on his back and his Gibson guitar — in a Moore County condo fire earlier this month.
His brother and band mate, Franklin Branch, organized the show with a little help from his friends — from local singer Charity Davis, Carie Carpunky and River’s Edge vocalist Megan Bradley securing donations and raffle prizes, to Joshua Franklin manning the grill.
Then, there were the fellow musicians performing a collection of country, classic and alternative rock covers, mixed with a few original tunes, who gave up their time to entertain the crowd.
The Branch brothers both expressed their gratitude on the event’s Facebook page.
“It was heartwarming to see so many great people showing their support to help me get back on my feet,” Daniel Branch said.
“We were able to raise $1100 for my brother,” said Franklin Branch, who later said that another $1,000 was raised prior to the benefit. “Words can’t say enough for what everyone has done to help. We are forever grateful for your compassion.”
Tony Boatwright and his crew drove up from Cheraw, South Carolina to kick things off a little earlier than originally scheduled.
Three musicians — bassists Wayne Humphries and Patrick Razon and drummer Virgil Bowler — each played full sets with two bands during the night.
Simple Things — featuring guitarist Jonathan Robinson, drummer John Martin and Humphries — was the first band on the bill, followed by Doing it Again, an acoustic duo with Chris Herring on guitar and Roger Campbell on mandolin.
Next up was Safety Committee — headed up by Chuck Smith on guitar, Mervyn Celso and keyboards and guitar and Razon, with Bowler filling in — then Back Forty, led by Eric Whitfield on guitar and vocals, with Brian Grooms on guitar, David Lynch on drums and Razon. There was even a quick Black Powder reunion as Jason Singleton stepped in on bass and Smith on lead guitar. Former Back Forty drummer Brian King also sat in on a song and Davis provided backing vocals on another.
Raffle and door prize winners were called out during the 15 minutes between sets as the band members switched out their gear.
River’s Edge — with Daniel Branch on lead guitar, Shane Glaze on rhythm guitar, Franklin Branch and Bradley on vocals, Humphries and Bowler — fired up the final set with a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band.”
Daniel Branch took center stage on a few songs, including Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
As predicted, a jam session followed the show — even as the crowd dispersed, the band played on.
(Disclosure: The writer of this story joined in for a rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”)
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]