When I walked into the entrance of the 9th Annual Everglades Awareness Benefit Concert, I was greeted by two striking things. The first was an unassuming glass jar labeled “Everglades Water” and surrounded by hopes and prayers written on small index cards. The second was Houston Cypress, head of the Love the Everglades Movement. As he spoke to my friend and I about his organization, the indigenous music of the Kuyayky Orchestra echoed from one of the three stages Gramps had set up for the event.
“There are a lot of things that are important about the Everglades, but one of the main things is the water that the Everglades provides,” said Cypress.
The musical acts at the concert spanned everything from reggae (Army Gideon) to indie (Zen per Capita) to hip hop (PATH). Spoken word performance and short talks from local community leaders punctuated each act. And every act, whether musical or otherwise, called South Florida home.
“Music is a universal language. It’s a cliché, but it’s also so true,” said Cypress. “We can tap into the creative communities, whether they’re doing visual art, music, spoken word, performance, and it’s a way of building the community concerned with these matters. It’s been a really great platform to empower people to do this kind of work.”
This community support wasn’t limited to the Everglades. The concert took place in the heart of Wynwood – the epicenter of localized Zika transmission in the United States – the day before the state declared the neighborhood Zika-free. While complimentary mosquito repellent demonstrated a lingering sense of caution, the event also functioned as a celebration of Zika’s departure from the area.
To me, the highlight of the event was Magic City Hippies, the Miami-native band that exploded on Spotify over the summer with their single “Bull Ride.” Their intimate yet high-energy performance – where they replaced spoken word segments of their songs with monologues about the Everglades and community overall – provided a perfect bookend to a day full of art activism.
Caption 1: A vase of water from the everglades serves as a tangible reminder of the meaning behind the concert.
Caption 2: “Monopoly Man” FPL participates in a demonstration by Floridians for Solar Choice, who urged attendees to vote No on Amendment One this November, as it would allow energy companies to retain their monopoly over the solar industry.
Caption 3: Photos from the Everglades cycle behind indie band Zen per Capita. While cute pictures of river otters or serene landscapes didn’t always match the music, the photos made sure the theme of the day underscored each act.
Caption 4: Reggae band Army Gideon performs on the outside stage of Gramps.
Caption 5: The band Magic City Hippies performs “Fanfare,” one of the tracks off their Hippie Castle EP. This is not the first year the band has participated in the event, but their recent surge in popularity made them one of the most polished acts of the day.
By Savannah Geary, interviews by Phoebe Cohen