Planning a rocking benefit concert: Gulf Sounds

Kelly Gehringer (third from left) organized Gulf Sounds and serves as Vice President of Communications for Sustain Mizzou. Pictured here are other key Gulf Sounds volunteers.In April, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had a devastating effect on pelicans and turtles, fishermen and locals, in addition to what once was considered the pure water and plant life of the Gulf.

I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to combine my passion for music with an environmental cause and I had to seize this one. I decided to pick three organizations that are providing aid to the Gulf, to cover three categories: environment, community and wildlife. The idea was to create an event with Sustain Mizzou that people could respond to – understand each organization and choose which cause to fight for. There would also be a variety of local bands people would be introduced to, so they could choose when to come to the concert as well. Finally, we would sell raffle tickets and raffle off gift certificates to various restaurants in the District.

I started working with a small group every week and took things step by step. First, we needed a name. After a lot of exploration with alliteration and thesauruses, the name rolled off the tongue of the lovely Tina Casagrand (Sustain Mizzou’s current president). “Gulf Sounds.” It was perfect!

Davis Dunavin
Davis Dunavin played the first set. Photo by Briney Bischof.

Next was the venue. We picked the Blue Fugue because it’s a cozy bar where an intimate group could feel comfortable. Once we had permission from them, it was time to pick the bands. We all pooled our ideas together and in the end we were so happy with the musicians that showed up to play (so was the crowd).

Next we decided on the organizations: the Environmental Defense Fund, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the National Wildlife Federation. Now it was time to spread the word! Obviously, we created a facebook event, but there were some other key players in the process.
Gulf Sounds poster
Gulf Sounds poster design.

By luck, I know a brilliant student in the MU School of Journalism named Michelle Pais, whose concentration is design. I asked Michelle if she could help me make a couple of posters and she decided to brand the entire project with her partner Drew Roper. They designed a logo for us and made t-shirts, posters, flyers, a banner and pamphlets explaining the organizations. Outreach truly was the key to a successful concert. We couldn’t have done it without Michelle and Drew.

The last component of Gulf Sounds was getting sponsors from around the District to donate some gift certificates to raffle off. The key was continuing the $0 budget throughout this process. We typed up some letters, shook a couple of hands and ended up with a very generous amount of gift certificates from places like Flat Branch Pub, Kaldis, Main Squeeze, Lakota, Acme, Broadway Brewery and Sparkys. The most vital sponsor, however, was our dear friends at Tigers Credit Union. They believed in our cause and wanted to be involved. Gulf Sounds couldn’t have happened without them!

The week of the concert we reserved a table at the Student Center and hung our banner. We sold some raffle tickets and passed out handbills. People started to say, “Are you going to the raindrop concert?” That was a good thing.
Crowd at the Blue Fugue
Kyle McDonald plays to a packed crowd at the Blue Fugue. Photo by Briney Bischof.

Wednesday, Nov. 3 rolled around and everything went according to plan. All four bands played, we sold t-shirts, raffled off prizes and danced. The results were over $1,000 in support of the organizations. We packed the Blue Fugue, heightened awareness about a pressing environmental issue and raised money to contribute.

Thank you to everyone involved in Gulf Sounds. It took a passionate community to make it work.