A soulful benefit and birthday bash

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December 6, 2004 // UPDATED 4:50 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Michael Metzger
Michael Metzger

Local luminaries rock against domestic abuse Dec. 6

Another sort of memorial service will be held for Sheila Wellstone Monday, Dec. 6. Instead of controversy and tears, this one will feature shared memories, rootsy rock 'n' roll, sweaty soul and the gentle rasp of acoustic music -- all combined with a continuation of Wellstone's efforts to end domestic violence.

Monday night, Adam Levy of the Honeydogs will join Martin Zellar, Mark Bauer, Matt Jennings, Tim Mahoney and Kevin Bowe with Mick Sterling on stage at the Fine Line Music Caf/, 318 1st Ave. N. The star-studded show will benefit two groups focused on ending domestic violence, the Sheila Wellstone Institute and Casa de Esperanza, a St. Paul organization geared towards helping Latinas.

Until her life was cut short two years ago in a plane crash with her husband and then-Senator Paul Wellstone and seven others, Sheila Wellstone was a national spokesperson for the effort to end domestic violence and sexual assault. The institute, which is based in St. Paul, was founded in her name to continue her work in this area.

In addition to serving an important cause, the event will also serve as a sort of birthday party.

Since 2002, Jeff Bauer (musician Mark Bauer's younger brother) has organized a fund-raiser for the institute on his birthday. This year's his 30th, so he wanted to do a big, fun show featuring local musical luminaries.

Bauer worked with the Wellstones in the mid-1990s as a college campus coordinator during Senator Wellstone's re-election campaign and is occasionally asked to speak about them in public. He traveled extensively with and was especially close to Sheila. "It's only been recently that I've been able to talk about Sheila in public and make it through a speech like that," he said.

Now, Bauer works as executive director of the Youth Farm and Market Project, a South Minneapolis group dedicated to bringing urban farming, as well as information about nutrition, to local kids. His work for the institute is voluntary.

Guys against violence

While it may seem odd that Bauer rounded up an all-male bill for the concert, he said this was more a matter of coincidence than intent.

"There were female acts we were trying to track down," he said, "but they all had schedule conflicts. It just didn't work out."

However, the arrangement may be for the better.

"There's a need for men to be speaking out about this. We need to be standing beside women and speaking out," Bauer said.

Institute Director Connie Lewis couldn't agree more. "So often people think it's private and that it's up to shelters and community activists or the police. But really, we need to involve a much larger segment of the community in understanding domestic violence and being able to speak up about ending it.

"One of the things we've been talking about, and that others in the whole area of violence against women have been talking about, is the need to strengthen the voices of men. To get more men involved in this issue. To get more men talking to their sons and daughters about violence against women. So we were kind of excited about the idea of a male lineup," she said.

Violence Against Women Act

Lewis said that the money raised at the Fine Line will help the Sheila Wellstone Institute fight to preserve the Violence Against Women Act, due to expire next year.

"[The act] was first passed in 1994, and Paul and Sheila Wellstone were involved with that and very proud of it," she said.

Lewis said the act is considered the first major federal legislation to address the issue, making certain acts of domestic violence and sexual assault federal crimes and providing "much-needed resources to states to really help address the problems with the justice system with the response to the violence."

She said she's very concerned that the legislation will only be reauthorized if people speak out loudly about its importance.

"That's one of the things we hope to be able to do in addition to the concert -- invite people to join a network so that they can be involved in helping to make sure that they can let their representatives in Congress know how important this is."

She said the institute is pushing not only for reauthorization of the measure, but for its full funding as well.

"The main message of this effort and of the Sheila Wellstone Institute is that domestic violence is a big societal issue and it belongs to all of us, and we all can play a part in ending it," Lewis said.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; music starts at 6;30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each and available at the door.

For more information on the Sheila Wellstone Institute, go to wellstone.org or call 651-645-3939. To learn about Casa de Esperanza visit www.casadeesperanza.org or call 651-646-5553 (their crisis line is 651-772-1611).