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Mardi Gras benefit to help preserve wetlands

Gina Garascio

CARBONDALE – Most of the people in Carbondale’s adopted city of Pearlington, Miss., probably know a lot about coastal wetlands. But what does the Voice of the Wetlands know about this tiny hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast community?Two causes are about to unite as the folks in Redstone have managed to book one of New Orleans’ most famous bands to play a benefit for Pearlington from 4:30-8:30 p.m. today.The event is called Mardi Gras in the Mountains, and the theme will run through to Redstone’s annual Fourth of July parade and celebration the following day.The Redstone Community Association, Crystal Club Café and the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District present the Voice of the Wetlands All Stars, featuring such well-known recording artists as Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Waylon Thibodeaux and Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone.”We heard that Tab Benoit was going to be in the area anyway. We didn’t know the whole band was going to be there,” said Billy Amicon, who, along with his wife Kim, decided to host a benefit for Pearlington at their cafe in Redstone.

“We wanted to throw some excitement back into the (Pearlington) project by having a party,” Amicon said. “It’s a pretty big deal to get that whole group, they only do a few gigs together.”Amicon had gotten to know Anders Osborne throughout the last few years, and when he heard the supergroup would be playing nearby in Granby for a benefit July 1, he contacted Osborne about coming to play for a benefit. Osborne said he would be there for sure, and, he added, he thought he could get the whole band.The band is dedicated to raising awareness of the critical loss of wetlands occurring in the Gulf Coast and the effects on everything from the oil and seafood industries to the culture and people of Louisiana. All of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to Pearlington, with proceeds from CDs and T-shirts going to Voice of the Wetlands (VOW).States the VOW Web site, http://www.voiceofthewetlands.com, “What would America do if the state of Delaware was washed off the map? That is how much land loss has occurred since 1932 off the coast of Louisiana (1,900-plus square miles). By 2050, another 1,000 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal marshes, swamps, and islands will disappear.”According to Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach, Redstone residents have been a big part of the valleywide effort to assist Pearlington. More than 100 valley residents have gone to Pearlington to help out, and the community has raised more than $200,000, plus about $300,000 in donated goods, since Hurricane Katrina struck last September, he said.”I’m just very proud of the people of the Roaring Fork Valley for supporting the people in Pearlington and sticking with it,” Leach said. “The effort has been phenomenal, and the effort continues and the valley continues to support it. The people of that town will never, ever forget the people of Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley. They are very appreciative of the continual effort.

“I think it will continue for a long time, people are going to need help for years,” he said.The Redstone benefit is a way to reinvigorate the Pearlington Project and to support about eight individual families there that are in the process of rebuilding their lives.”To me it was heartbreaking. There were about 600 houses and 2,000 people, most people had to leave their property,” said Redstone resident and event organizer Lisa Wagner.Wagner went to Pearlington in March with about 40 students from the Colorado Rocky Mountain School.”We want to keep the spirit going, to rekindle the spirit to help out,” she said.

She plans to return to Pearlington after the busy tourist season in Redstone where she owns the Crystal Dreams Bed & Breakfast.”This is a huge deal. It’s the biggest event that’s ever happened in Redstone,” said Wagner, who asks anyone who has been to Pearlington or involved in the project in some way to come to Redstone for the Mondayevent, and to walk in the July 4 parade. Leach and Pearlington project manager Tom Dalessandri are the grand marshals of the parade. The parade starts at noon Tuesday.Tickets for Mardi Gras in the Mountains are available at The Bayou in Glenwood Springs, Sounds Easy in Carbondale, Great Divide in Aspen, The Daily Bottle in Snowmass and the Redstone General Store. Tickets are limited, and all proceeds go to Pearlington thanks to the generosity of several sponsors who have covered the significant production costs.Vail, Colorado


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