A pair of benefit concerts featuring Barney and Dustin Bentall and the Blue Wranglers in Clinton Friday raised more than $8,000 for the people of Lytton.
A few hundred people turned out for the two concerts – held at the Clinton Museum and later in Dustin Bentall’s yard on Cariboo Highway. At the museum concert, Hunnies Mercantile donated pizza, while the later show offered baked goods, mini-donuts and popcorn for sale by donation.
“Even the cheaps seats are filling up out there in the parking lot,” Dustin Bentall quipped. “This is incredible. I heard a lot of people came out from Kamloops – that’s really blown my mind. I hope you came for the music and not just to escape the smoke.”
The concerts featured a “song-writer” round, with performances by Barney Bentall, Dustin Bentall, Arlen Park and JJ Shiplett, followed by the Blue Wranglers – Dustin Bentall, his partner Trixie Berkel, Bruce Ambler and Dan Fremlin, who were playing their third show since being formed. Park’s twin daughters, Ella and Sophia, also made a cameo appearance, stealing the show.
“It wasn’t easy the last year and a half for a musician but I feel everything’s coming back. This is what we missed,” Dustin Bentall said. “You guys are incredibly generous and threw down a lot of cash.
“More than anything this was a big spiritual elevation for everyone, we needed that. We can’t thank you guys enough for being here.”
The concerts were staged as a way to bring both financial and spiritual relief to the people of Lytton, which was devastated by wildfire June 30.
“We had such an amazing time and it was great to feel all the communal energy,” Berkel said, adding the evening concert raised $5,235.
Janice Maurice, president of the South Cariboo Museum Society, said she was surprised when more than 150 people turned out for the earlier show at the museum, bringing in close to $2,800 in donations. People came from Walhachin, Ashcroft and even included an evacuee from Lytton.
“It seems we pulled it off pretty good here,” Maurice said. “The weather was nice. I think everyone is just craving entertainment, socialization. It was just so much fun. Thank you to all the people who donated.”
The funds raised will go toward the Lytton museums as well as the Red Cross to help those who lost everything in the fires.
Dustin Bentall said he and Berkel plan to hold more indoor concerts in Clinton and across the region this fall, noting the concert was a good indication of the support for music in the community.
“I was really impressed with the community and how they showed up and came out,” he said. “It exceeded our expectations.”