Sunday’s seven-hour showcase of West Michigan talent drew hundreds of people to The Intersection to show support for the couple and help pay their medical bills.
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It was a word repeated often during Sunday’s benefit concert at The Intersection for Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles and his wife, Cindy, who’s battling Stage 4 breast cancer.
The outpouring of support from musicians, fans and friends seemed nearly overwhelming for the couple, who greeted and thanked attendees in the crowd and from the stage throughout the afternoon and early evening.
The who’s who lineup of West Michigan performers at the upbeat affair – The Soul Syndicate, Hannah Rose Graves, Eric Engblade Trio, Mick Lane, Fauxgrass, Troll for Trout & Larry McCray, Drew Nelson, Channing & Quinn, Josh Rose and Joe Shields, along with special guests such as harmonica ace Craig “Griff” Griffith – made nearly every moment worthwhile as visitors browsed silent auction items and purchased T-shirts bearing the image of Bowles’ smiling face.
Thousands of dollars to cover the Bowles’ medical bills and other expenses were raised by the event, and a GoFundMe campaign set up in advance of the benefit show already had topped $12,000 by Sunday evening.
Indeed, with hundreds turning out, organizers collected nearly $8,000 in donations at The Intersection on Sunday through contributions at the door, bids made in a silent auction, purchases of merchandise and participation in a 50-50 raffle.
VIDEO: Highlights from the Bowles Benefit at The Intersection
More than anything, Sunday’s benefit may have proven just how blessed the region is to have such a giving, collaborative music scene – with many musicians joining fans to cheer on their fellow artists from the wings.
Some of the performers – including Nelson and Lane – paid tribute to Bowles by performing his songs, others such as Eric Engblade and Hannah Rose Graves brought him on stage to pitch in during their sets (with Engblade and his crew backing Bowles on a rendition of “Velvet Elvis”).
With the assistance of volunteers, The Intersection, On Stage Services, WYCE-FM, J. Oscar Bittinger, Local Spins and donations of merchandise and services from a variety of businesses — including pizza from Good Pizza for performers — the seven-hour benefit show proved to be a real community affair. (Those who couldn’t attend can donate online here.)
It was the kind of buoyant event and diverse showcase of talent that left folks wanting more, with even a smiling Bowles asking at the end of the night:
“Could we do this every Sunday?”
PHOTO GALLERY: Ralston & Cindy Bowles Benefit at The Intersection
Photos by Anna Sink and Taylor Mansen