August 22, 2013 Updated: August 22, 2013 at 10:27 am
Jeff Smith, president of the Black Rose Acoustic Society, knew the longtime music organization had to do something in the wake of the Black Forest fire in June.
"We consider ourselves part of the Black Forest community," Smith says. They hold the majority of their shows in the Black Forest Community Center on Black Forest Road. "We've been doing shows for almost 20 years, and we know a lot of people there. ... We wanted to do something, and what we do best is put on music and concerts."
They threw their lines out into the music community, and netted the "Ragin' Cajun" himself - fiddler and singer Doug Kershaw, who has lived in Greeley for the past 27 years. The Louisiana-born Kershaw is famous for his vivacious performing and songs like "Louisiana Man" and "Diggy Liggy Lo."
"People that was in the fire," says Kershaw, 77, "I said hey if that was me, I'd sure appreciate the help. My heart goes out to the people, and now my talent will."
Kershaw will headline the daylong music benefit, "The Benefit for Black Forest - Music in the Forest, For the Forest," on Saturday at Wonderland Ranch.
Eric Olson, a Black Forest resident who lost his home in the fire, is in the acoustic Celtic band Skean Dubh. They will also perform at the benefit. Eleven bands will play on two stages, including Wendy Woo, Grass it Up and Gypsy Swing Revue. There'll be food, beverages and outdoor activities for all ages.
One hundred percent of the profits will go to Tri-Lakes Cares, Smith says. The organization will distribute funds to those Black Forest residents who were directly affected by the fire.
During the two-week fire, which killed two people and burned down almost 500 homes, BRAS board members feared for the loss of the community center.
"They did excellent fire mitigation around the center," Smith says. "We're grateful. We have sound equipment in there. It's kind of our home even though we don't have a physical address."
Even a short distance from the center, the landscape speaks loud and clear.
"If you drive up Black Forest Road, from Shoup to Hodgen (roads), the devastation is incredible," Smith says. "We're trying to help those people."
"The Benefit For Black Forest - Music in the Forest, For the Forest"
Who: Doug Kershaw, Wendy Woo, Birds of Chicago, Moors & McCumber, Charlie Hall and Big Honk, Gypsy Swing Revue, The Wielands of Mass Destruction, Skean Dubh, The Blue Fenders, The County Line Ramblers and Grass It Up
When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; Kershaw plays at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Wonderland Ranch, northwest corner of Vollmer and Hodgen roads, Black Forest
Tickets: $20-$25, free for first responders and those who lost a home or suffered damage in the Black Forest Fire; 481-4864 ext. 110, blackroseacoustic.org.
Jennifer Mulson can be reached at 636-0270.