What to do tonight: Benefit show hopes to call attention to South Side violence

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The South Side can be a dangerous place. So you should go there tonight.

No, it's not that I don't like you. It's because I like the South Side.

Seven, a relatively new bar at 2013 E. Carson St., is hosting a show tonight to benefit the South Side's own Dave Whaley and the Keep South Side Safe project.

You might remember Mr. Whaley, a local musician and fixture at Dave's Music Mine, who was assaulted earlier this month while crossing the intersection of 20th and Sarah streets on the South Side.

"Some guy in a red Mustang almost hit him and Dave yelled for him to slow down," said Amethy Sandstrom, who organized tonight's fundraiser. "The driver threw it in reverse and got out and essentially bludgeoned him."

Mr. Whaley was hospitalized with a fractured orbital bone. And while Ms. Sandstrom said he is back on his feet -- he was playing drums at another benefit at Excuses the other night -- his hospital bills are plenty healthy, too.

But the money raised tonight will do more than help Mr. Whaley. It also will go to Keep South Side Safe, an organization of South Side residents, workers and frequenters motivated by countless incidents like the beating Mr. Whaley experienced.

"The whole community is getting involved," said Ms. Sandstrom, 22, a bartender at Seven. "We want to do something good for our neighborhood."

Almost everyone who spends a lot of time on the South Side knows someone who has been touched by these crimes.

"The same night that Dave got hit, another bartender got held up at gunpoint," Ms. Sandstrom said. "You keep hearing more and more stories. Just the other night, another one of our friends got jumped. You don't hear about it on the news because they're trying to build up the South Side. So why would they report all these people getting their heads bashed in with the blunt ends of guns?

"I hear a lot of people saying they're not going to come out to the South Side at all. I'll say to my friends, 'Oh, come on down. I'm bartending tonight.' And they're like, 'Oh, no, I really don't want to deal with the South Side.' And I really don't blame them. It's getting really bad."

How does calling attention to the crime there benefit the neighborhood? Ms. Sandstrom and others with her say that identifying and discussing the problem is the first step toward a solution.

"It brings awareness, so it's not just being swept under the rug," she said, adding that the project organizers hope to enlist the support of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in the weeks ahead.

OK, so you're a fan of the South Side. And you're all about helping Mr. Whaley. But what, you are wondering, is the lineup of bands at Seven tonight?

How about local artists Josh Verbanets, Grand Snafu, and Round Black Ghosts?

"Luckily for me I have a lot of friends and family who are musicians," said Ms. Sandstrom, who put tonight's event together in less than two weeks. "So all I needed was the go-ahead, and they're all volunteering their time. And they're really awesome bands. Everyone's been practicing and everyone's excited about it."

Mr. Verbanets, the lead singer and guitarist with Meeting of Important People, will be on his own as he opens the show with his pop-rock sound.

"His band is out of town until after the new year," Ms. Sandstrom said. "But he's great. He visits a lot of different schools where he'll sing songs to kids about not bullying each other. Which is really cool."

After that, things get a little edgier. Let's see how they describe themselves on their website:

"There are no rules in original rock and roll, and for over 10 years Grand Snafu has been making music their own way," they tell us. "This three-piece band mixes multiple influences into a unique songwriting style that is heartfelt and satisfying. Elements of blues, jazz, funk, soul, reggae and ska are all evident in the variety of original compositions written by this high-energy trio."

OK, that gives you the idea.

And then there's Round Black Ghosts. Members Aaron Shafer (guitars), Martin Kantorzyk (guitars), Richard Condon (bass), Keith Kleinhampl (drums) and Ryan Levis (organ, guitars) are another local band that, according to their MySpace page, has been around for 10 years.

"Our sound is a meld of alternative, indie and rock influences, yet manages a unique quality," they tell us. "Our live shows possess a high level of energy to complement the dynamics of the songs. Most importantly we have fun doing it."

Ms. Sandstrom said Mr. Shafer, the group's lead singer, knows how important tonight's event is.

"Just the other night, Aaron saw this girl throw litter out of her car or something, and he said, 'Hey, pick that up' or 'Don't litter,' or something like that, and her boyfriend got out of the car and punched him in the face. And the cop let them go.

"I just want people to be able to go from a restaurant to a bar and not have to feel like something bad might happen," Ms. Sandstrom said. "I want my friends and family to be able to come out and feel safe. I want the crazy road rage to stop. I mean, it's just getting ridiculous."

So go to Seven at 8 p.m. Chip in $5 at the door for the fundraiser, then maybe buy a T-shirt and sign a petition. Tip big, because Ms. Sandstrom and her partner, Dominick, are donating 50 percent of the jar to the cause.

music - neigh_south

This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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