On April 4th, something “magical” happened. The tragedy that occurred on March 22nd in Oso, WA (Arlington/Darrington/Oso Area) has led to an unprecedented outpouring of support from the surrounding areas of WA, not to mention other parts of the United States. In less than 2 weeks time, over 100 benefits/fundraisers/donations have taken place. We’d like to focus on one in particular.
The Oso Landslide Victims Benefit featuring Chance McKinney (& Ron Stubbs) was held on Friday, April 4th at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Marysville, WA (a neighboring city to Oso in WA). The concert was “Chance McKinney idea with a whole lotta Tulalip Resort Casino elbow grease” says McKinney. In an interview with KOMO News – ABC 4 (Seattle, WA), McKinney spoke about the speed with which it went from “idea” to “reality.”
“I literally brought it up over a conference call with the planners/directors of the casino and the Tulalip Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series as we were discussing options for the upcoming season. Of the folks around the table, I was directed to Shane Warbus (Operations Manager for Food & Beverage Services). He picked up the phone as our meeting came to a close and we chatted about the possibility of hosting a Oso Benefit at the casino with less than one week’s time to plan it. I figured I’d get the idea (albeit a good one), shoved back in my face considering the amount of work it was going to take to pull it off successfully. That, however, was NOT the response I got.”
Within the hour, Warbus and McKinney were on the phone again for the 2nd time after running the idea up the flagpole (or totem, if you’d prefer) on both ends. There was nothing but positive response from both camps. “As we began, I apologized to Shane. Man, I’m sooooo sorry for all the additional work I’ve created. How are you gonna fit this in on top of your normal, overflowing responsibilities in operations? He responded with a ‘doesn’t matter Chance. It’s the cause that matters.’”
Two days later, the event artwork was complete, social networking posts were lined up, extra staffing for the concert was secured, all the paperwork had been filled out, special guests had been contacted and it was ready to “go public.” Chance made the announcement first on http://www.facebook.com/ChanceMcKinneyMusic which soon followed on Twitter (@ChanceMcKinney), Instagram and more. Within 3 hours, over 20,000 people online had seen the event. “After 3 hours of the #Oso #Landslide #Victims #Benefit being posted, I received an email from the GM of Seattle Wolf asking if we’d like help promoting it. I bet it took less than an hour after I responded before the Wolf had PSA’s runnin’ to help us push” gushed McKinney.
By the time the Tulalip sent out the press release and they started promoting it through social networking, the concert was pushing 40,000 views on Facebook alone. They even started receiving donations days before the event started. Warbus said “we put out a flier, nothing official, just a computer copied paper to some of our patrons at the casino to let them know we’d be doing a $20 Admission on a normally ‘free Friday’ night and what the benefit was for. Little did we know we’d be collecting funds on the spot.”
Friday the 4th came… Social networks were abuzz… KOMO – ABC 4 was there to cover the event “live.” McKinney told us later that “I remember passing by the front entrance on the way backstage when one of the gals handed me a slip of paper saying we’d already reached $6500 in donations” before the concert even began. “I took the slip with me and showed the guys before we even took the stage. Our goal of $10,000 was within reach. We were buzzing with excitement by that time.”
As Ron Stubbs (Grammy nominated hypnotist) finished up his act and brought Chance on, the Tulalip Canoes Cabaret was no less packed than a normal Friday night only this time… it wasn’t free to get in ($20 Admission/Donation required) and people were on fire. Literally, “when Chance hit the stage at 9:30 there was a palpable buzz in the crowd.” Stubbs continued with “you’d have thought I was bringing on Elvis, or Garth with the response he got.”
By the end of the first set, Chance, his band, Stubbs and the Tulalip we’re all smiles with an accumulated donation surpassing $10,000. So much so, there’s a $10,000 “selfie” they took backstage floating around online somewhere that’s the talk of the town. (Photo courtesy of @ChanceMcKinney Instagram Feed)
“Folks were literally throwing money up on stage” says McKinney. “I spent 4 hours on stage that night and only managed to sing 22 songs. Normally, we’d do anywhere from 45-50 songs in a night, but with folks handing me twenties, hundreds and whatever change they had on ‘em I spent more time collecting dollars than performing.”
“I’ve never been a part of anything like that. Never. Just off the top of my head I remember money coming in from all the surrounding Washington communities (Arlington, Darrington, Mukilteo, Marysville, Everett, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, Seattle, etc.) and some unexpected out of state donations. There was a guy there from my hometown of Missoula, MT that must’ve thrown at least 6 or 7 hundred dollar bills on stage. I remember a gal from Washington, Georgia… a guy from Arlington, Texas and others from Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and so many other states I think I’ve forgotten.”
In all, McKinney and the Tulalip collected $16,007.48 by night’s end. 100% of that went straight to Oso Victims. “We actually searched around for an organization that had no overhead. We wanted every single penny to make it to the folks who needed it.” (Photo courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/ChanceMcKinneyMusic)
“I’ve tried to explain to people what happened that night, but it always comes out shy of the truth. How often can you really say that? I mean, most of us spend our whole lives over exaggerating, but that night can’t be explained without under exaggerating. The outpouring of human generosity. The looks in people’s eyes when they handed over money or told their story. The willingness to take care of those in genuine need. Those are the things I’ll take away and remember for the rest of my life.”