“Back in St. Louis, we’ve dealt with tornadoes, floods, all kinds of stuff, but nothing in remote comparison to what happened for Hurricane Michael,” says John Wolffer.
Moved by the sheer scope of Michael’s destruction, Wolffer founded Rock the Rebuild to facilitate a benefit concert. Their December event raised funds for Bay County’s Habitat for Humanity and left them with a desire to do more.
Rock the Rebuild 2.0 will take place Saturday, Feb. 9, from 4 PM to midnight in downtown Fort Walton Beach. Both Enlightened Studios and the Green Door Music Hall will host over a dozen musical acts.
Event coordinator and Qwerty band member Christian Mayes tells Beachcomber, “We intend to unite our community with itself while raising funds to help the students of Bay County. Every little bit helps in this continued effort to keep morale and hope alive and growing amongst the victims of this devastating storm.”
Wolffer explains how he came to this area: “I’ll try to mail out the Cliff Notes here. Allen (Rayfield) and I played music together back when I was a teenager for a short amount of time, and we lost contact. He reached out to me on Facebook, going on just a little bit more than two years ago. He started telling me what he was doing, and I was telling him what I was doing at the time. I was playing music a little bit—playing in a church, weekly services, pickup gigs, stuff like that.
“I wasn’t really completely involved in the music scene. He started telling me about the Panhandle and the music scene around the area. He was just like, ‘Yeah, come on down. Play two, three, four, five, six, seven nights a week. Yeah, there’s all kinds of people that are doing it.’ I’m like, Okay, yeah, sure.
“(I’m) from the Show Me state, so the first inclination is, Yeah, I have to see it to believe it. But the good news is, it didn’t take long for me to figure that one out. It just so happened on the day that he was telling me all about this, and he said, ‘Yeah, come on down,’ was the day I was literally packing my bags anyways to go down to Florida. I just had an extended vacation of going on about two years now.”
Like most of us, Wolffer was tuned into Hurricane Michael’s track. “I stayed up all night worrying about the hurricane… and I realized how lucky I was. I ended up going over to Panama City with a friend. We went over to take a look at the damage and decided we needed to try to do something.”
Those were the seeds of Rock the Rebuild. For Rock the Rebuild 2.0, Wolffer chose a beneficiary relating to his musical instrument of choice. “It definitely hits me in a soft spot, being the fact that I’m a drummer and I’ve been through the whole marching band.”
With their eye towards Bay High School’s drumline needs (with upwards of a $25,000 price tag attached), Rock the Rebuild 2.0 hopes to make a dent in those fundraising efforts.
“I guess the thing to be able to take away from it is it’s all volunteers,” says Wolffer. “It’s all people that stood up to the plate to try to be able to do something. It’s as grassroots as it gets. There’s no organization tied to this. There’s no nonprofit tied to it. It’s literally just a group of a few concerned citizens that wanted to throw a good concert and a good thing.”
With local businesses donating silent auction and sponsorship items, bands donating their time, and volunteers helping the event come together, Rock the Rebuild 2.0 is indeed a community effort.
As for Wolffer, he can be found filling in behind the drum kit with area bands and playing most Monday nights at Destin’s Funky Blues Shack for the weekly Emerald Coast Blues Society jam.