Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 11, 2013

Concert pays homage to local activist

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Students from a local music camp will perform a tribute concert tonight for an area activist who is battling a terminal illness.

The SEEDS School of Rock campers prepared for the show this week at Twin Lakes Park with the help of musicians and teachers from groups like the Earthwork Music Collective. Campers’ work will be on display during the concert at the City Opera House, where they will play a collection of songs they wrote along with several tunes selected by Bob Russell, to whom the show is dedicated.

Bob Russell and his wife Sally Van Vleck are considered icons of the area’s environmental and peace community. Russell suffers from stage four cancer and recently entered hospice.

The theme for the music camp and tonight’s concert — resilience — is fitting given Russell’s life and work, including production of the public access television show “Investigating Community Resilience.”

Russell said resilience is about being flexible when life drastically changes.

And music can reflect that,” he said. “Having options so you can adapt to change you don’t see coming.”

Seth Bernard, founder of Earthwork Music Collective, said the resilience theme also relates to the recent deaths of Traverse City West Senior High School Owen Williamson, who drowned at Twin Lakes Park, and musician Pat Carroll, who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis.

Writing and performing music helps campers learn how to deal with grief, Bernard said.

“We’re asking for the kids to really put themselves out there, and they’re really rising to the occasion,” Bernard said.

Tickets for the show cost $15 and all proceeds benefit the SEEDS School of Rock scholarship. Doors open at 6 p.m., at which time the students will perform while marching through downtown Traverse City.

The show inside the Opera House is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Earthwork Music Collective musicians will perform after the campers.