Local musicians to headline Bahamas aid concert

Barefoot Man George Nowak and Barrie Quappe from Sea 'n B play at Nippers Grill in Great Guana Cay in the Bahamas at an earlier concert.

Cayman’s Barefoot Man George Nowak and band Sea n’ B will be headlining an upcoming ‘Hope for Abaco’ hurricane-relief concert.

The concert will take place in Stuart, Florida, on 14 Dec. at the Veterans Memorial Park. Nowak said he considers Abaco his second home and was happy to help.

“Tourism is, or should we say was, the backbone to outlying Cays’ healthy economy [in the Bahamas],” he said.

Nowak, along with Chuck and Barrie Quappe, Mark McTaggart and Winston (Bugs) Wilson, have been performing for the last 20 years at the annual beach concerts on the island of Great Guana Cay, which was in the direct path of Hurricane Dorian.

“Without question, the majority of the island, along with the concert venue ‘Nippers Grill’, was devastated,’ a press release about the concert stated. “Over the years, Barefoot has composed and recorded several albums which eulogises the Abaco archipelago. He has even closer ties with the island of Green Turtle Cay, which is the home to one of his daughters, Dawn.”

Cayman Airways has donated airline tickets for band members to attend the benefit concert. The other performers include Stone McEwan and Sunny Jim.

Concert organiser Erich Sitko said the goal is to raise $1 million to send to the Abaco Cays for the rebuilding of uninsured Bahamian homes and businesses.

He said all proceeds, including the artists’ fees, will be used for that effort.

He has partnered with a local charity in the Bahamas to distribute the aid, he said.
Sitko added he has been cruising the Bahamas for more than 14 years and was moved to help the islands.

“When first pictures were coming in, showing aerial views of the damage, it was clear to see that the damage was indeed catastrophic – pictures of giant oil slicks off Grand Bahama. They claim to this day that no oil leaked into the ocean; however, early photos paint a different story, the need for emergency aid became very clear,” he said.

Sitko said he began working with individuals to collect supplies and ship them to the affected islands and was able to take 4,000 pounds of food and water to Grand Bahama on the yacht M/Y Synergy a few days after the storm.

“We have since sent several vessels loaded with relief supplies to different islands in need. We are now switching to collecting and sending supplies for rebuilding,” he said.

Many homes in Abaco are foreign owned, he said, and most of which have some type of insurance, but “the people most impacted by this event are the Bahamians themselves”.

Ticket sales for the concert are set to open this week.

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