When Hugh Bennett organized the first annual Recoveryfest concert in 2002, the poor turnout had him wondering if he'd met his objectivenamely, to generate some positive PR for the recovery community in Nashville, including all the groups and agencies that help people live with addiction.
A year later, at another Recoveryfest concert, a woman approached Bennett to thank him for his efforts. After attending the premier Recoveryfest event, she went to her first 12-step meeting and subsequently checked into a recovery facility for help. The day she spoke with Bennett, she was still sober and had regained custody of her children. She had her health and her family back, and she marked the turning point as the initial Recoveryfest show.
"I'm now in my 24th year of recovery," says Bennett, a well-known Nashville concert producer. "I wanted to give back to the community that saved my life. I wanted to do something positive to counter the negative stigma of addiction and recovery. What I know how to do is put on shows, so that's the best way I can contribute."
The music at this year's show, which is being produced by Bennett and sponsored by the Nashville Area Recovery Alliance, ranges from rock to country to everything in between. The concert will be held 2-10 p.m. Sept. 11 at Hall of Fame Park, across from the Country Music Hall of Fame, and all of the performers are donating their time to help out.
"I've been traveling on the road with bands for years, and you see a lot of partying, of course," Bennett says. "Some people can handle rocking like that night after night. But I've seen so many people where the drugs or the drinking take over their lives and the music becomes secondary. I can list a thousand of them. It's hard to watch talented people throw it all away because of cocaine or drinking or whatever."
Bennett also works with MusicCares to staff Safe Harbor rooms where those in recovery can go during high-intensity events like the Grammy Awards and the CMA Awards. The annual Recoveryfest serves a similar purpose, creating an environment where those in recovery can share with other musicians and where someone might wander in and find the help they need. Of course, as Bennett points out, "It's also just a good show that anyone can enjoy. That's reason enough to attend."
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