When tragedy strikes, it can be difficult to find a silver lining. But a local group of arts promoters determined to help a friend in need believe that finding a light in the dark is possible.
The Boote Family Benefit slated for Sunday, Nov. 11, at River Street Jazz Cafe celebrates the life of the late Fred Boote, who was killed in his South Wilkes-Barre home in September and left behind four children and four grandchildren. The event will feature performances by local bands A Proud Monkey, Clever Gents (comprised of DJ Hersh, A.J. Jump and Gino Lispi), Vine Street and the Boastfuls.
The admission is a suggested $5 donation, which will benefit the Fred and Erin Boote Scholarship for the Arts, given to a student at E.L. Meyers High School who will pursue studies in the arts.
As news of Boote’s death spread, co-organizers Johnny Popko of ALT-Natives 92.1, Rich Howells of NEPA Scene, Joe Caviston of Meat & Potatoes Entertainment, DJ Hersh of Beatteks, Heather Szeliga of River Street Jazz Cafe and Keith Perks of 1120 Creative rallied together to find a way to show support to Boote’s daughter, Brittany, a local photographer whom they all had worked with before.
“The six of us got together and just agreed to try to do something for her,” Perks said. “Benefits typically revolve around music, and we all work with a ton of local bands. Right away we were thinking of bands to get involved, that she’s friends with, and everybody hopped on right away.
“I’m proud of our local arts and music scene,” Perks added. “We have a great community. I can’t even imagine what (the Bootes) have been going through. We went from the angle (that) a lot of these events are sad, but this is something positive. We’re trying to keep this upbeat and celebrate him.”
While the pain is still vivid, Brittany Boote noted the timing of her friends’ offer couldn’t have been better. Since her mom Erin’s death in 2015, Brittany Boote has hosted an annual Shots for Tots fundraiser for the scholarship at her mother’s alma mater. She usually begins planning the event around this time of the year, but as she reels from the loss of her father, she wasn’t sure how she was going to carry it through.
“My dad was a big part of helping me with those events,” Brittany Boote said. “It was weighing on the back of my mind, so when (they offered), that weight was lifted. I would never in a million years think to ask someone for that. It’s super comforting. (My siblings and I) were all just so blown away and beside ourselves over the fact that friends would come together to do that.”
The Boote Family Benefit also will include basket raffles plus food area chefs have donated. Brittany Boote intends to go along with other family members to honor both of her parents.
“I’m trying to take everything day by day,” she said. “I’m such a people person. I feel like going to the event is going to be a way for me to try to readapt.”
If you go
What: Boote Family benefit featuring A Proud Monkey, Clever Gents, Vine Street and the Boastfuls
When: Sunday, Nov. 11, 4 to 10 p.m.
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains Twp.
Details: Admission is a $5 suggested donation to benefit the Fred and Erin Boote Scholarship for the Arts. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.