The “Good Neighbors Helping Haiti” event at Pearl Street Brewery in January was a bit of a coming out party for The Good Neighborhood. Planning an event for a separate cause, we’d paired Lazlo Hollyfeld and DJ Cutler for a creative collaboration. On the day it was to be announced, an earthquake hit Haiti and its crisis captivated the world. We shifted our charitable focus to help the American Red Cross and began searching for Buffalo-Haiti connections.
Our search led us to Asakivle – Buffalo Friends of Haiti, and their tireless leader Franck Desire, a native Haitian who calls Buffalo his second home and at the time was unaccounted for in the country’s chaos. A few days after the earthquake hit, Franck had been found safe thanks to a photo on Facebook and resulting email exchange, and his Buffalo friends united around our event, helping raise $2,000 on a Friday night at Pearl Street that also featured music from Emile Latimer and Gruvology, crafts and clothing from El Buen Amigo, a silent auction, and a 50/50 split raffle that Channel 4’s Rich Newberg won and promptly have his winning half back to the cause.
Moving forward, Asakivle began plans to rebuild their collapsed community center in the capital of Port-au-Prince, shifting focus to land they had in the countryside village of Soukri. The Good Neighborhood committed to continuing our collaboration, and crafted “One Drop for Haiti,” an ensemble jam rooted in the “one drop” reggae sound while summoning the spirit of Asakivle’s meaning, “Let Whoever Will Participate,” and serving to keep awareness alive – even if the funds raised amounted to only “one drop” in the bucket toward the rebuilding of the center.
The April event, again at Pearl Street, saw Lazlo Hollyfeld drummer Matt Felski anchor the one drop beat, and as bandleader help recruit and prepare a group that featured Latimer, Eric Crittenden, members of Peanut Brittle Satellite and Syracuse residents Amy Ryan & the Operatives, and DJ Universal. Together they joined the veteran musician Desire, now back in Buffalo and more determined than ever to help his home country, for a thrilling night of tight yet heavily improvised reggae that held Asakivle in the spotlight for all to see the profound connection between Buffalo and the still devastated nation of Haiti. It was clear that this would not be a one-off.
Anyone who watches the headlines knows that the situation there remains dire. While Desire could be seen taking in the tunes at the Music is Art Festival in September, he was soon back in his homeland to continue his relentless effort to build a countryside center that gathers Haitians to learn sustainable living and visitors to help the cause and immerse in the culture. He returns to Buffalo today, and to welcome him back and continue our commitment to his cause, we’ve arranged for One Drop for Haiti 2, tomorrow night at Pearl Street Brewery. We’ve arranged for some exciting additions to the band and will be showing a slideshow of scenes from Soukri. We hope you’ll join us and help put one more drop toward Franck’s dream – safe to say, this community center is at the top of his “bucket list.”
“This center will be a source of information and education for not only the people of Soukri, but also to the people of Buffalo,” said Desire. “Our friends in Buffalo will have a place to go to participate in Haitian culture. This is more than just giving aid – this is an exchange of hope.”
- WHO: An all-star ensemble of local musicians, Asakivle and fellow Buffalo Friends of Haiti
- WHAT: One Drop for Haiti 2: Rebuilding with Reggae
- WHEN: Thursday, November 18th, 9pm, $5 cover
- WHERE: Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, 76 Pearl St., downtown Buffalo
- WHY: To rebuild and revamp Asakivle’s community center in Haiti
Outstanding Artvoice TV coverage of the first One Drop for Haiti
About Seamus Gallivan and The Good Neighborhood: The Good Neighborhood is a Buffalo-based company that pairs performers
with common causes to create Gatherings for the Common Good.