RidgeFest benefit show this weekend

ridgefestTragedy has been a part of the human experience throughout all of history. When families and communities lose their own, there is a primal pain that ensues, especially when young folks are involved. War, disaster, accident or malice, it matters very little when people you love are wrenched away.

In our modern world of instant and widespread communication, we know more about this sort of human loss whether it happens nearby or thousands of miles away. While silver linings may seem remote when a wound is fresh, the basic kindness and goodness of the human heart always triumphs in the end.

Another example among many is set for this Saturday (April 20) in Snow Camp, NC (near Burlington) at the site of the Lil’ John’s Mountain Music Festival. A number of top bluegrass bands will perform in a special benefit show to assist a family whose home was lost to a fire – one that claimed the lives of their two young children – and help the good samaritan who risked his life and health in an attempt to save them.

The story itself is almost too sad to relate. On March 9 of this year, the home of Fred and Dana Ridge in Gibsonville, NC caught fire while Dana was at work. Fire investigators believe that a space heater ignited the upholstery on a piece of furniture and caused the accidental blaze. Asleep in the house were Dana’s two young children, Jade (1) and Matthew (4), and Fred, their grandfather.

Fred was awakened by the sound of the flames, but the door to the children’s room was already engulfed in flame. He ran outside to try and get to them through a window, and was assisted by Steve Cosner, a passerby who ran to the building when he saw the smoke.

Sadly, they were unable to do so, and the two babies were found dead in their bed when firefighters arrived a few minutes later. The Ridges were left to mourn them without a home, and Cosner suffered extensive second degree burns on his arms.

Ridge is a familiar name to bluegrass people in north central North Carolina. Fred’s brother Johnny Ridge is a noted fiddler, performing these days with Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion, and his daughter, Laura, is a bluegrass booking agent and photographer whose work has been featured many times here at Bluegrass Today.

Within a few days of the fire, they were at work putting together a benefit concert to help their family members and the brave man who disregarded his own safety to help strangers he had never met. Their plans started small, but the support quickly grew to the point that it will be hosted in a top notch facility, with first rate entertainment, sound and vendors.

Scheduled to appear on Saturday are Blue Highway, Lost and Found, Kevin Richardson & Cutting Edge, Strings of Faith, Constant Change, and Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion. Also slated is an All-Star jam featuring Sammy Shelor, Allen Mills, Johnny Ridge, Dan Wells, Mike Aldridge, and James King.

The one-day show will run from 1:00-10:00 p.m., with free rough camping both Friday and Saturday night included in the $20 admission fee. Camper hookups will also be available. The promoters ask that all attendees respect the park’s no alcohol policy, and be prepared as it will be an all cash event.

Proceeds will go to help defray Steve Cosner’s medical expenses, and assist Fred and Dana Ridge rebuild their home and their lives.

Additional details can be found on Facebook and the Lil’ John’s web site.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.