Ann Powers

Slideshow: My Morning Jacket's Tuscaloosa Tornado Recovery Benefit

Click Here To See The Slide Show

On August 19, Jim James of My Morning Jacket pulls a silk rose from the rubble of a house in Tuscaloosa that was destroyed by a tornado in April. Jeffrey B. Hanson for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jeffrey B. Hanson for NPR

On April 27, an F-4 force tornado hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, leveling 7,274 homes in less time than it takes for the band My Morning Jacket to play its signature song, "Mahgeetah," in concert. 55 people were killed; thousands lost their livelihoods. The university town mostly known for its football fanaticism became a place of heartbreak and, now, of rebirth.

Neko Case kept to herself through most of the tour; she later Tweeted, "It was a very heavy day that I can't seem to shake." This image captures Case taking a photograph she later posted on Twitter, of a scrap of paper she found in the debris. It read, "Words are worthless unless deeds are wedded to them." i i

Neko Case kept to herself through most of the tour; she later Tweeted, "It was a very heavy day that I can't seem to shake." This image captures Case taking a photograph she later posted on Twitter, of a scrap of paper she found in the debris. It read, "Words are worthless unless deeds are wedded to them." Jeffrey B. Hanson for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jeffrey B. Hanson for NPR
Neko Case kept to herself through most of the tour; she later Tweeted, "It was a very heavy day that I can't seem to shake." This image captures Case taking a photograph she later posted on Twitter, of a scrap of paper she found in the debris. It read, "Words are worthless unless deeds are wedded to them."

Neko Case kept to herself through most of the tour; she later Tweeted, "It was a very heavy day that I can't seem to shake." This image captures Case taking a photograph she later posted on Twitter, of a scrap of paper she found in the debris. It read, "Words are worthless unless deeds are wedded to them."

Jeffrey B. Hanson for NPR

Last Friday — three months and three weeks after the storm — My Morning Jacket, Neko Case and Phosphorescent came to Tuscaloosa to play a special show, with all proceeds after costs going to the United Way of West Alabama. The bands transformed a tour date into a benefit after hearing of the town's devastation.

I live in Tuscaloosa during the school year, and I saw an opportunity to connect these artists, known for their progressive values, to the particular cause their efforts would benefit. So I asked some friends who'd been involved in recovery efforts to take us all on a tour of the tornado zone. It was an emotional experience — one that, I think, changed the nature of the concert that happened later that night. We took a photographer along to document the journey and the current state of a city still healing. He also grabbed some great shots of what turned out to be a really memorable show.

Click here to see the slide show.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.