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D.C. artists are no strangers to giving their talent and time to worthy causes. The latest example is scheduled to take place this week at Rhizome DC. On March 22, a variety of artists, organized by Joey Bentley, come together to raise money for Ward 4 Mutual Aid, a volunteer-run organization born in the Spring of 2020. Thanks to partnerships with DC Central Kitchen, the Central Area Food Bank, and Bread for the City, Ward 4 Mutual Aid provides fresh produce and pantry staples to hundreds of local families monthly. Rhizome’s fundraiser will help further Mutual Aid’s mission to supply free essential supplies to neighbors in Ward 4.
“I wanted to do this for Ward 4 Mutual Aid because it is the ward that Rhizome belongs to, and I wanted to emphasize our Rhizome mission of providing for our community,” Bentley tells City Paper.
The local musician was born and raised in the D.C. area and has been performing in several projects, such as Young Rapids and Halpine, and playing drums in various bands over the past 10 years. Bentley’s vision is an admirable one: a desire to support the community while orchestrating a line-up of different art experiences including musicians, poets, and visual artists.
“There was a time after Young Rapids ended in 2017, and I started making solo music, that my focus for playing shows shifted to being more community oriented… instead of it being about my own self promotion,” says Bentley, who’s also a volunteer at Rhizome. “Looking at my own art, it has become less about monetizing my work or thinking that I am going to make this my career, so I want to make sure that when I do play I am doing something bigger than myself.”
Bentley will reunite with his former Young Rapids bandmates Dan Gleason and Colin Kelly for the show. They’ll play music from both Gleason’s and Bentley’s current projects, Dangers with Friends and Halpine, respectively. Bentley says they won’t play Young Rapid songs because “this show will be about our new solo efforts.” Referring to his former bandmates, he continues, “We still speak the same musical language together, and so supporting each other for our new projects for this one show, seemed like the ideal setup.”
Other performances include the critically acclaimed electronic hip-hop/rap-meets-post-punk duo Tooth Choir and Sir E.U. “I loved their last two records,” Bentley says. “And I admire Tooth Choir’s production and Sir E.U is an incredible lyricist.”
To ensure he was delivering a diverse art experience, Bentley reached out to poet Harleen Seventy, who will read their work at the show. Bentley notes, “I think they will inject a nice moment in between the musical acts.”
Headliner Den-Mate, a dark-wave pop group fronted by Jules Hale, recently started performing again after a two-years break. In January, the band released their latest album Roadhouse, featuring Bryan Gerhart of Baby Bry Bry.
Throughout the night, Dom Rabrun, a digital mixed media artist, will project live animations; he’ll also DJ in between performances. Bentley first met Rabrun at Silver Spring’s Quarry House Tavern where Bentley was waiting tables. Rabrun would draw on the back of the paper menus and napkins, and Bentley became an immediate fan, hanging Rabrun’s doodles around Quarry House during his shifts. The two have remained friends over the years, even after Bentley changed careers and Rabrun’s took off as a full time artist. This will be their first time working together for an official event.
“Rabrun will be the true star of the night,” Bentley says.
Rabrun’s work aims to link and explain the fragmented sections of his unique life and experience as a first-generation immigrant who grew up in a deeply conservative Christian household, according to his website.
If all goes well on March 22, Bentley hopes to continue organizing benefit shows for various organizations in the city, aiming to highlight the D.C.’s many talented musicians and artists.
“For me, this can also be about making sure I book bands that I admire that also want to do more for our community,” Bentley says.
The Benefit Concert Fundraiser for Ward 4 Mutual Aid starts at 6 p.m. on March 22 at Rhizome DC. rhizomedc.org. $10–$20, sliding scale. Masks, proof of vax required.