05/21/2012

Alan Jackson brings 'Aftershock' concert to Mineral

By Karin Kapsidelis - Richmond Times-Dispatch

The online voting that drew Alan Jackson to a high school parking lot Sunday night may have started as "kind of a complicated little deal" to promote his album, the country music star told 6,000 people who gathered to hear him sing.

But as so many votes came in for Mineral, he said, the contest ended up showing the power of people coming together to aid a tiny community hit hard by a magnitude-5.8 quake Aug. 23.

His "Music for Mineral: The Aftershock of Hope" benefit concert near the quake's epicenter raised $152,500 for the Louisa Education Foundation to assist in rebuilding the county's schools.

It was held in the parking lot of Louisa County High School, which was condemned after the quake.

"This is probably the biggest thing Louisa ever had," said Lindsey Moroch, a 2008 graduate of Louisa High School.

Moroch, who just graduated from Radford University, came to Jackson's concert with her sister, Louisa junior Katherine Carter.

Carter was in math class when the trembling started, at first so gently that nobody thought much of it.

"But then the tables were shaking, and the chairs were shaking and everything was moving, and nobody could get up," she said.

The sisters were among thousands who waited through the afternoon to be rocked in a different way.

Initially a free concert for Mineral's roughly 490 residents, Capitol Records Nashville expanded to about 3,000 the number of tickets given away on a first-come, first-served basis. Another 3,000 tickets were sold for the benefit to help rebuild the county's schools. The quake caused nearly $80 million in damage to the county, with about $64 million of that to school property.

The concert also drew the sponsorship of Smithfield Packing Co., which joined with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to deliver 30,000 pounds of protein, or 120,000 servings, to the FeedMore Food Bank. FeedMore's reserves were depleted by the earthquake and a hurricane that hit Virginia the same week.

Moroch had taken part in the online voting that brought the concert to Mineral and described herself as "enough of a fan" to be there anyway.

A more avid fan was Karen Sowers, who was in line nearly six hours early to see Jackson for the ninth time.

"I live local. I own a business local, I was impacted by the earthquake, and I'm a die-hard Alan Jackson fan, so all of the above," she said of her reasons for coming out early for the show.

The concert means everything to the county, she said. "There's not a lot of money here anyway," she said. "It's been amazing how everyone has pulled together."

For a community still being hit by aftershocks, the concert is "a big uplift," said Maria McRoberts.

When aftershocks happen, "you don't know whether to run out of the house," she added. "I think this will help calm the nerves of people affected by the quake."

McRoberts, a Mineral resident, had a free ticket but chose to watch from a hill outside the gates. She and friend Kandra Orr of Spotsylvania County are big fans of the Grammy Award-winning singer.

"I think it says a lot about Alan Jackson that he's willing to do a benefit concert," Orr said.

"He's really walking his talk," she said. "His music has a lot of heart."

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