Rockin’ the Rez for Bay Mills Community College

May 15th, 1992 | By | Category: 4-1: Breaking Down the Walls: Confronting Alcohol, Drugs and Family Violence, Tribal College News
By Jennifer Gray Reddish

Ben Miller at the Dream Catchers Benefest

Rain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on the fourth of July may have ruined a few barbecues, but not Bay Mills Community College’s Benefest day. Twelve bands participated in an all day concert, attended by over six hundred people, to raise money for the college and the American Indian College Fund.

Held on the Chippewa Reservation in upstate Michigan, the concert featured Bill Miller, a popular native American folk singer. Ann Sward Hanson, vice-president of the American Indian College Fund and daytime televi­sion star of As the World Turns, also attended.

The Dream Catchers Benefest was sponsored by Blue Yonder Audio, a group of Michigan musicians who have come together to support Bay Mills Community College and other native American orga­nizations. The fourth of July concert was organized by Chris Staels, founder of Blue Yonder Audio, and Asta Jurgutis, lead singer of the Hope Orchestra.

The concert represents only the most recent effort by Blue Yonder Audio to support Michigan’s only tribal college.

Staels’ first fund-raising effort began after a visit to the reservation. Learning of Bay Mill Community College’s poor funding in 1991, he released Dream Catchers, Volume I, a compact disc featur­ing songs from various Detroit artists. Proceeds from the disc were donated to the college and led to several well-attend- ed concerts that November.

Encouraged by the growing interest, Staels began work on Dream Catchers, Volume II and included the American Indian Fund and the Lansing Indian Center as beneficiaries along with Bay Mills Community College. The July con­cert was to promote the new disc to the public and to build awareness of the col­lege’s needs. Together, compact disc and concert ticket sales have raised over $ 12,000 dollars. Over $7,000 alone went to Bay Mills Community College.

The success of Blue Yonder Audio and the Dream Catchers compact disc series has created more momentum for Staels’ fund-raising efforts. He hopes to add to the list of native American organizations who benefit from his project. In addition, more bands are asking to join the effort. “Putting together Dream Catchers I was tough, but now I have bands calling to ask what they can do to help,” he said.

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