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Local musicians come out to support one of their own

Mark Anderson’s home at 2022 E. Second St. in Duluth was devastated by a fire on the night of Jan. 30.

Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson is hugged by Carmody Irish Pub co-owner Liz Gleeson during a benefit at the bar on Sunday. Anderson, a musician, lost most of his belongings in a fire Jan. 30. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
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While the Grammy Awards were attracting tens of millions of viewers to their television screens Sunday, many local music lovers had another big event on their minds.

A fire just more than a week ago caused extensive damage to the home of Mark Anderson, a jazz and blues guitarist who has been playing the Duluth scene for more than two decades.

Some quick planning by friends and fellow musicians turned into a 10-plus-hour gig Sunday at Carmody Irish Pub in downtown Duluth.
“Think about the definition of the word ‘band,’ ” said Marvin Pomeroy, a drummer in the Mark Anderson Trio. “You band together.”

Anderson’s home at 2022 E. Second St. in Duluth was devastated by a fire on the night of Jan. 30.

Anderson, his fiancée, Connie, and Connie’s daughter, Jessica, escaped without injury, but the family’s cats perished in the fire.

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The fire wiped out Anderson’s music room, taking not only his guitars, but also a collection of vintage instruments, including a banjo that belonged to his grandfather.

The next day, the ball was rolling on plans to hold a benefit for the family. Eddie Gleeson, owner of Carmody, offered his space for a benefit, and Pomeroy began to line up acts.

“It’s really nice to be part of a town and part of a community where people take care of each other,” said Anderson, who works as a boilermaker and considers music a hobby. “It’s very heartening. We’re very grateful.”

The benefit was to originally run five hours, but Pomeroy said he kept getting interest from bands who wanted to play. The pub even extended its hours to accommodate to long lineup, which consisted of a mix of genres.

“We’ve got music here that you don’t normally see on the same bill,” Pomeroy said. “There are so many people who wanted to help, and we have so many gifted musicians.”

Conservatively, Pomeroy was hoping for at least 600 people to contribute the $10 suggested donation, along with additional donations coming from a silent auction.

Gleeson said he had no hesitations about offering up his bar for the benefit.

“When we started nine years ago, Mark was one of the first guys we had playing here,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of the blues.”

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He commended the Red Cross for assisting the family but said he knew the community had more to offer. And he wanted to do it quickly.

“I’ve been burned out myself, so I have that empathy,” Gleeson said. “I knew if we didn’t act quickly, things have a tendency to get put on the back burner.”

When Anderson walked through the door about 2 p.m., he was met with a swarm of well-wishers who gave him hugs and handshakes.

It has been a trying 10 days, Anderson said, dealing with the aftermath of the fire and working with his insurance company.

He said he’s not in the mood to get back on the stage quite yet, but he wanted to thank those who were there to help.

“Even though the poster says it’s a benefit for Mark Anderson, there were really three of us,” he said. “We just feel grateful that we made it out alive. Grateful that we live in a town where people take care of each other.”

Donations can still be made at Carmody. Organizers are also hoping to host another benefit at a later date in West Duluth.

Related Topics: MUSIC
Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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