Stand With Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction

This weekend, musicians, artists, and community members from South Bend and beyond will be coming together to support the gathering at Standing Rock and its efforts to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Stand with Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction takes place this Sunday, January 29th at LangLab in South Bend. The event will feature a variety of entertainment, with twelve bands, twelve acoustic artists, three DJs, and multiple comedian MCs.

“It’s going to be music packed, all day long,” said Dena Woods.

She, along with fellow organizers Jenni Miller and Eli Kahn, have been awed by the support offered to them by the local community. The performances, beginning promptly at 2pm, have all been donated. The acoustic stage will be surrounded by auction blocks with work offered by local and regional artists, as well as goods from local businesses. Throughout the community, everything from water for volunteers to supplies for promotion have been contributed.

“It’s bigger than we ever thought it would be,” said Miller. “It’s pretty amazing. It’s a testament to the kind of place South Bend is.”

Miller is a local artist herself, operating out of a studio space at LangLab. The venue, which also operates as a small business incubator and a studio home for artists, is the appropriate fit for such a community oriented event. LangLab gives artists a reduced rate space to work and developing businesses a low-rent option to get started and grow before heading out into the broader region. Purple Porch Co-op, a community owned cafe, grocery store, and farmers market, got its start inside LangLab.

“It’s a supportive place,” Miller said. “It’s home.”

She appeared entirely unhindered by the immense effort and the lack of sleep that has been the price of planning the event in such a short period of time. She pointed to her experience managing bands, organizing past events, and serving on the board of directors for Habitat For Humanity as valuable when planning the benefit event.

Woods and Kahn also have their share of experience in planning events in the area. Those familiar with the local music scene would have a hard time missing any of their names throughout the years. They were quick to point to their volunteers, the community donors, and, most importantly, the Standing Rock gathering itself, as the focus.

Planning for Stand With Standing Rock began after Kahn found himself emotionally affected by imagery from the Standing Rock Gathering, with native tribes and their allies in peaceful protest being assaulted with fire hoses, gas, and rubber bullets.

“Some of these images we’re seeing,” Miller said. “It’s hard for me to think about without crying.”

We discussed the current climate in our culture and the need for every citizen to find a way to step into the fray and help better the world. Miller pointed to the daunting task of each individual figuring out what they can do to make change, but knowing she had to do something.

“I’m an artist, I’m poor, how can I help?” she said. “We’re just trying to do this the way we know how. The way we know how is to spread love through art and music.”

“We all felt moved enough and angry enough,” Woods said. “It’s about doing something for what’s right and fighting against what’s wrong. I may be one person, but I have this within me and I’m going to give it to fight for what’s right. Obviously, a lot of causes that are extremely important that need to be fought for right now.”

It’s their hope to raise a significant amount of money at the event to donate to the Standing Rock gathering for supplies and to also raise awareness. They are also hoping to inspire others to take similar action for other causes.

“If you want to do something, do it,” Miller said. “Revolution doesn’t have to be violent.”

“You don’t need permission from anybody,” said Woods. “If you are upset about something, empower yourself and do something about it.”

The event, according to Miller, is about showing that South Bend stands with Standing Rock.

“We have to be there for each other no matter how far away we are,” she said.

Stand With Standing Rock takes this place this Sunday, January 29th from 2pm until 8pm at LangLab in South Bend on High Street. Information on the event can be found at the Stand with Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction Facebook event page. Those hoping to volunteer for the event can contact the organizers via the Facebook page. Information on the Standing Rock gathering itself can be found at


Dena Woods

Photo by Kevin DeCloed.

Photo by Kevin DeCloedt.

For both Dena Wood‘s own music career and the South Bend music scene as a whole, she describes now as a time of rest and reenergizing.

Dena is a well known in the area, both as a talented performer and a driving force in building and maintaining the local music scene and culture. Her music is soulful and reflective and she’s brought much of that energy into her work in booking shows and planting the seeds of a welcoming atmosphere for musicians and music fans alike. Name a music-related event in South Bend and there’s a good chance that you’ll find Dena is somehow involved. Now, however, Dena is taking a break, limiting her participation to give her a chance to reflect on what has come and renew her energies to continue creating her art.

“I want to go see music,” she said. “That’s what keeps me inspired.”

Dena plans to take the winter off, playing a minimal amount of shows so she can focus on writing new music and enjoying the success of the scene. In recent years, there has been a lot of excitement in South Bend music. While proud of the accomplishments of herself and other local leaders, she is hoping the groundwork will attract new individuals to help continue the work.

“A lot of people are just tired,” she said, emphasizing the amount of effort that goes into making even a single show successful.

One of her hopes in this time of maturation and refocus is for more venues that exist to focus solely on musical performance. She’s thankful for the support system provided by restaurants, wineries, and breweries, but expressed a desire for the experience that comes from performing for an audience present for the appreciation of the performer over all else. She describes a number of venues that have been working to create this atmosphere, including South Bend’s LangLab, The Well, Fiddler’s Hearth, Goshen’s Ignition Music Garage, and Three Oak’s The Acorn Theater.

Photo by Kevin DeCloedt.

Photo by Kevin DeCloedt.

“They have the best open mic I’ve ever played,” she said, referencing the Acorn Theater and their popular weekly event that provides musicians with a supportive audience and a professionally operated sound system, features not found in all venues. Fiddler’s Hearth also has an audio infrastructure, removing the responsibility for performers to rent, transport, set-up, and tear down additional equipment, giving them the freedom to focus on their art.

“Just knowing that that was taken care of and all I had to do was show up with my guitar. I wasn’t exhausted before I started,” said Dena.

In her personal life, it’s Dena’s goal to focus more on her passions and less on fear. While she understands the financial realities of everyone’s lives, she believes our culture has put too much emphasis on scarcity and career pursuits. She says we are marketed to in a manner that creates the belief that we need unnecessary products and that “there is not enough” for everyone. She hopes for herself and for others to pursue “soul-filled goals” and face difficulty in a calm and positive manner.

“I used to function on fear and scarcity,” she said. “But I am only here for so long and I want to be happy while I’m here. Now I focus on doing what feels right for me.”

In the growth of the South Bend music scene, a similar balance is needed. Dena hopes for passionate people with fresh energy to take advantage of the venues and spaces available. She describes the difficulty of creating a system that has value for the musicians, the venues, and the audiences. Though she emphasizes that she does not have the answers, she offers the idea of non-profit spaces funded by grants or business people who are able to handle the logistics in a way that respects the art. At this point, the challenge is to create a system that is both creatively fulfilling for the artist and audience and financially successful for the musicians and venues involved.

“The city has changed a lot,“ said Dena. “The goal now is to make it sustainable.”

You can find information on all that Dena Woods has going on at and listen to her music a

These piece created in part for Justin’s weekly column in Off The Water.