Music Festivals

Why there's a benefit tonight in Denver for victims of the drunk driving accident at SXSW

In the early hours of Thursday, March 13, 2014, a drunk driver injured 23 people and killed two at SXSW. There has been an outpouring of national support for the victims of the incident, and today it comes from Colorado. A benefit show called SXSW Cares is being held at the hi-dive tonight, May 30, featuring performances with Esmé Patterson, Emerald Siam, Straight Outta Luck, Dwayne and Calder's Revolvers, with a raffle for SXSW 2015 passes as well as numerous other prizes.

Josiah Albertsen was at SXSW hosting a panel on the subject of money and the music industry. The night of the incident, Albertsen was attending a Cheap Girls show at Red 7 with Joe Gittleman from The Mighty Mighyy Bosstones, who wandered off before the show was over. They made plans to get coffee the next morning.

"When I showed up for coffee he wasn't there," recalls Albertsen. "So I was shell shocked, because I woke up with voicemails and text messages asking if I was okay. I thought it was a terrorist attack or something. I called him and didn't get an answer, and then it flashed through my head, 'What am I going to tell the panel? What do I tell the company? Is he okay? What do I tell his family? Do I know how to get a hold of his family? Have I met his family?' I thought about all this stuff. He called me back at 11:30 and said he was still on East Coast time and that he was sorry. I was just grateful to hear his voice, and he was probably confused with how grateful I sounded.

"The next day I ran into Ben DeSoto," adds Albertsen. "Ark Life was playing the Colorado Music Party and I said, 'Ben, we should do something. We should do a benefit show.' He said we should do it at the hi-dive. From there I reached out first to the non-profit, the Austin Community Foundation, and they said no one was doing one in another city, and it would be great if we did that.

From there he contacted other organizations, including SXSW itself. "They were all really helpful. It really felt like a local music scene. There's political stuff between promoters, but everyone was willing to put it aside in a way and just do it. 'They're involved? Great, we want to be involved too.' And no one asked for top billing."

Some may know Albertsen from his stint as a booking manager at the Climax Lounge, where he worked from 2004 to 2006. During his tenure, he provided an outlet for many younger bands, mostly in the punk and ska scene. Prior to that, he had been politicized by punk when he met some people at Warped Tour in 2002 who told him about the now infamous protest against the Rocky Mountain Heritage Fest, which featured white supremacist bands.