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Charity plans ‘Night of Sweet Relief’

Oct. 15 concerts will benefit musicians without health insurance

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, the nonprofit organization devoted to securing health care for uninsured musicians, is establishing “A Night of Sweet Relief,” a nationwide live music event on Oct. 15.

Participating venues will donate a one-dollar surcharge added onto the base ticket price to the Huntington Beach-based charity, founded in 1994 to benefit ill, disabled and aging musicians in need of care.

Sweet Relief is reaching out to enlist artists to support the event. Organizers envision participation by musicians in all genres, in venues ranging from arenas to small clubs.

Live event is an ambitious step for Sweet Relief, which is best known for its 1994 and 1996 benefit compilations devoted to songs by Victoria Williams and the late Vic Chesnutt; contributors included R.E.M., Madonna, Smashing Pumpkins, Lucinda Williams and Lou Reed. A third, thematic Sweet Relief album is set for release this fall.

Sweet Relief executive director Rob Max said the October event was inspired by Record Store Day, the annual independent music retail event that draws record store traffic with exclusive releases.

Max said that a multi-venue event is an appealing alternative to the “rubber chicken” dinners that typically fund charities: “We really want to reach a lot of people. We didn’t want to make our event just for people with deep pockets.”

Max and Sweet Relief prexy Bill Bennett pitched the idea for a national live event to Paul Tollett, head of AEG’s Goldenvoice division, which promotes the annual Coachella and Stagecoach festivals. “Paul loved the idea,” Max said.

Goldenvoice has agreed to mount dedicated events in its venues, most of which are in Southern California. Other venues that have committed to participating include the Roxy and the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles and Slim’s in San Francisco.

Ticketing firms including Ticketmaster, Ticketfly, TicketBiscuit, TicketWeb and Etix have pledged their promotional support.

Max said the organization also has had discussions with promoters in international territories.

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