Long Shot Gets Second Chance. Note from Founder

To make up for technical difficulties, which works out great for us (The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is the underdog), MySpace is extending voting for the Impact Awards to Friday, Aug. 24th. That's time for us to find 96,500 more friends.

A little more about the Fund? We just passed along a donated van and found ourselves apologing that it's a '98. The brass band leader corrected us. "It's not just a van, it's a ride." A ride that will help get his kid to camp.

Imagine waking up tomorrow and packing up everything you can fit in the car. Your guitar, home studio, merchandise - everything you leave behind is lost. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, NOMRF tries to help still-displaced musicians survive. Along with grants, the Fund has offered housing, furniture, transportation and instruments.

My wife and I founded this nonprofit in internet cafes and FEMA rooms while out on the road post-Katrina, and hundreds of grant recipients are still spread throughout the country. We are still displaced, and still pay no office rent to help donations go further.

With volunteer graphic designers, publicists and video producers, everything you see on our MySpace is a labor of love. Ian Hunter's "How's Your House" streams on MySpace Television, and visitors can sample the ReDefine 8/29 Download Project. Our blogs and bulletins also help promote fund-raisers like the amp being signed by Mike Mills of REM, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Ian Hunter and Dr. John. Musicians are truly the soul of New Orleans, and with help from this MySpace Impact Award Nomination, we can continue to reach out to them as they play their way home.

Some have made it back, some are still evacuated and some are fatalities of the storm. I lost two old friends and bandmates, Barry Cowsill (photo at right) and Scott Sherman, to Katrina. Like many other New Orleans musicians, everyone in my family lost everything.

As the years pass, more and more of our legends are passing away without ever making it home. Thanks to REM, Wilco, Dr. John, Ian Hunter and every band on our ReDefine 8/29 Download, displaced New Orleans musicians know the rest of the world still cares enough to give them a hand up instead of a handout. Thousands of MySpace friends care. Thanks to the MySpace Impact Awards Nomination, millions can.

Jeff Beninato

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