April 08, 2020

Performers unite against land mines

Four Hancock County bands will join together Jan. 24 and use music to bring attention to a serious cause.

The rock ‘n’ roll evening, featuring The Reach, Face, Richard Crampton and The Rooty Diggins Blues Band, is a benefit for the International Fund for Landmine Victims. UXB(USA) is expected to make a cameo appearance as well.

The 8 p.m. concert at the Grand in Ellsworth, is the latest effort by students from Mount Desert Island High School and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill to increase people’s awareness of the land mine issue.

P.J. Keenan, a junior at GSA, pointed out that every 22 minutes someone is killed or maimed by a land mine, totaling 26,000 a year. One out of three is a child. She added that if all countries stopped using land mines today, it would take 250 years to clean up the 100 million now in the ground.

Keenan got involved with the land mine effort through her local Amnesty International chapter.

“Our adviser, Peter Carriveau, asked our group if we’d be interested in this,” Keenan said. “We felt it was a very worthwhile cause, and we were excited to have been asked.”

Students involved in the effort are Keenan and Jacob Freedman from GSA, and Emily Thibodeau, Lorin Cooper, Jesse Einhorn and Alicia Ball from MDI.

Both schools held candlelight vigils in December, circulated petitions, and solicited letters and postcards, all of which were sent to President Clinton. In addition, GSA held a benefit dinner in December, raising $300 for the victims fund.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, an alliance of 1,000 citizens groups in more than 60 countries, got its start after the Vietnam War, during which one-third of the American soldiers who died were killed by U.S. land mines, Keenan said.

Marine veteran Robert Muller, who lost the use of his legs during the Vietnam War, started organizing the campaign in 1992, along with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. Both the effort and Jody Williams, the campaign’s coordinator since its inception, were awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

The campaign gained visibility last year with the involvement of Diana, the late Princess of Wales. In December, 125 nations signed a treaty banning the production and use of anti-personnel land mines. It now must be ratified by 40 nations to go into effect.

But there are major holdouts, including the United States, Russia and China. Other countries that didn’t sign were Israel and its Arab neighbors, Pakistan, India, Turkey and Afghanistan.

The largely sympathetic Clinton administration is committing $80 million annually to mine-clearance efforts, and has set deadlines for the Pentagon to find alternatives to cope with situations in which its strategists still find the mines useful. Its chief concern is for 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, where land mines are used to defend against a possible attack by Communist North Korea.

The Reach, the evening’s headliners, are glad to do their part for the effort.

“This was an opportunity for us to get involved,” said drummer Ted Yoder. “It seems like a good idea to send money directly to victims, rather than to a system that distributes the money.”

The Reach is made up of Penobscot resident Yoder, bassist Isaac Robbins of Brooksville, vocalist-rhythm guitarist Schooner Rhodes of Surry and lead guitarist Geoff Neal of Brooklin. All are in their 20s except Yoder, who is 35.

The band was founded four years ago, with Robbins replacing founding member Burt Leach last summer.

“We’ve been pushing to do original music the whole time,” Yoder said. “We play pretty much on weekends, at parties or benefits, because that way we get to play our original stuff. We’re looking to book more dates, to create additional reasons to play.”

The Reach have songs on two compilations from Steve Peer’s Reversing Records: “Mountain,” on “45th Parallel,” and “Which Way,” on “Reversing Radio.”

The next step for the band is recording their debut album, which they are doing at John Dyer’s Unintentional Music studio in Blue Hill.

“It’s about half done, and we hope to release it in 1998,” Yoder said.

Saturday night affords area music fans a good chance to check out The Reach’s melodic rock, along with the sound of three other local groups, all for a good cause.

Tickets, which are $8 in advance or $10 at the door, can be purchased at Video Video in Bar Harbor, The Blue Hill Co-op in Blue Hill, and Pyramid Studio or The Grand in Ellsworth, or by calling 667-9500 or 667-9511.

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