Leighton Peterson, frontman for Safe Boating Is No Accident and Jessie Rehms, a Denver University law student, want to help Syrian refugees. Rehms has experience working with refugees, and Peterson has his band, so together the couple has decided to host "Syrian Sock Hop," a benefit show on Sunday, December 6, at the hi-dive, with all proceeds going to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR). Safe Boating Is No Accident, along with Rubedo and The Milk Blossoms will perform. There is a suggested donation of $5 to $10, and concert-goers can donate at the door or donate online beforehand and show a receipt at the door.
Rehms, who has worked with Central-American refugees and helped a few clients get asylum, is the mastermind behind Syrian Sock Hop.
“It was born out of me being so pissed off about the political backlash about Syrian refugees,” Rehms says. “We aren’t even taking anyone, why are people so pissed off? It made no sense. A lot of the movements that are happening are coming from so many different bounds. There are people that are forced to leave because of natural disasters, like the drought, and now it’s getting exacerbated by the civil war and ISIS, and it’s a clusterfuck of factors.”
While refugees have become part of the political discourse recently, especially since the Paris attacks a few weeks ago, Peterson doesn’t characterize the event as political.
“I don’t think of it as a political act at all, it’s a humanitarian thing,” Peterson says. “Anyone who does have a problem with it from a really poorly-informed political point of view, I don’t need to interact with, or really have them participate with what were what were doing at all. I’m not interested with having them as a listener.”
The UNHCR has declared a Syria Emergency and is working with their Emergency Response Team to help refugees and citizens of the country. The ongoing civil war has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2011, and according to the United Nations, millions have been displaced. In addition, ISIS has gained ground in Syria, wreaking havoc.
Peterson says he originally planned to take the money to Europe, buy bulk goods, drive them to Germany and donate them to refugees. However, he and Rehms realized giving the money to UNHCR would be much simpler and more beneficial.
“They [the U.N.] can do a lot with five dollars,” Peterson says. “They have infrastructure in place to get bulk goods and bring them to people…We realized if we just get that money to UN, it’ll stretch much further. It might seem like a small amount. but it’ll do a great amount.”
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While Sunday night is certainly about a something bigger than Denver music, it is also set to be a fantastic showcase of local music. Since last year Safe Boating Is No Accident has added new band members and is sitting on new material. Rubedo had a busy year with large shows and tours, and this will be a chance for fans to catch them at a small room before they open for Devotchka on New Year’s Eve at the Bluebird. The Milk Blossoms make the ukulele interesting again, and are a must-see for their gothic, engrossing shows.
“It’s going to be an excellent show,” Peterson says. “I’m pretty proud of the bands I was able to put together for this…It’ll be a great show, and the money is going to go for an awesome cause.”
More about the event can be found here.
More information about the Syrian Refugee Crisis, UNCHR and donation information can be found here.