Local Musician Preston Smith Organizes Benefit Show to Support Hurricane Relief Efforts

By George Slaughter

Preston Smith, right, will be performing at a Hurricane harvey Benefit Thursday night at the House of Blues in downtown Houston. He is shown here with his wife Alesia. (Preston Smith photo)

Like many in the area, Preston Smith was touched by Hurricane Harvey, and wanted to help with the relief efforts.

As an award-winning professional musician, he’s in a unique place to do something about it.

Smith rounded up a number of his friends in the music community, and will play a relief concert entitled, “A Night of Jazz.”

The benefit is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the House of Blues, 1204 Caroline, in downtown Houston. Doors open at 7 p.m. Master of ceremonies is Donna Franklin of KTSU 90.9. Tickets are $15, though listeners can RSVP for free tickets through a web site.

Other musicians include Dean James (saxophone), Theresa Grayson (saxophone), Vel Lewis (piano), Stephen Richard (saxophone), Michael Garvin (guitar), Will Fortune (saxophone), Jeremiah Mcconico (guitar), Al Campbell (bass), Glenn Piper (piano), Gianna Welling (vocals), Cornell Thigpen (piano), Andre James (vocals), Alvin King (piano), Annette Williams (vocals), Andre Hayward (trombone), Randall Cook (trombone), Cory James (bass), and John Fontenot (drums).

“We’ve had people from all over the nation who wanted to get involved,” Smith said. “People want to help. It’s very humbling.”

Smith said he was scheduled to perform Thursday at the House of Blues in any event, but after the hurricane he spoke with others to recast the show as a benefit. He said the House of Blues would donate a dollar for every person attending the show. Money raised will go to a nonprofit to help with hurricane relief efforts.

“The main thing is, I felt the need to do something,” he said. “I wanted to help get other people’s minds off all this drama. Just take a breath, and enjoy some music.”

Some of Smith’s musician friends lost their instruments, among other possessions, because of the flooding. But Smith knows that he and his family are fortunate.

“The water came up to our door and around the yard, and then it went down and we never saw it again,” Smith said.

Smith’s mother and stepfather live in Rockport, where Harvey first made landfall. Smith said the eye of the storm hit both their restaurant, The Crab Inn, and their home. Both buildings sustained significant damage. The situation is made worse because Smith’s mother is dealing with health issues and his stepfather has prostate cancer.

“Everyone took a lot of damage,” he said. “The restaurant, if it even opens, it a takes a long time to get back up.”

Smith said Thursday’s show would be a night of music.

“It’s going to be a really cool show,” Smith said. “Get there early.”