Local favorites Yelephants pair with Griot Youth Program

Bess Turner, Staff Reporter

Popular local band Yelephants has organized a benefit concert supporting the Griot Youth Program at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Beatnik. In addition to Yelephants, the benefit will feature bands Woozy, Sprawling and Grotto Girl, along with a stand-up set by Jon Dale.

Yelephants members Jack Hardy and Mike Benson, who fulfilled a service-learning portion of a summer program by assisting at the Griot Youth Program, discovered this after attending the youth program’s summer performance.

“We talked to a bunch of the kids, and we realized there was a lot of different things musically that a lot of them wanted to do that they just couldn’t because they didn’t have enough instruments or any money to get instructors for certain instruments, or even just get a drum set or a guitar or anything,” Hardy said.

The Griot Youth Program, located in Clarksdale, Mississippi, is an after-school program for seventh to 11th grade students in public school that offers arts classes, including music. Hardy and the Griot Youth teacher decided to put together a benefit specifically for raising money to buy instruments for the students.

“When I was growing up I never had any trouble getting instruments, or having access to any instruments, and none of my friends ever had trouble with it,” Hardy said. “We could all just go and afford to buy them.”

The Griot Youth Program supports at-risk teenagers by allowing them to express themselves creatively as well as providing tutoring and a mentor for each student.

“I think art education is important, and especially in Mississippi, there’s just no money for the arts, especially in schools,” Hardy said.

Yelephants has plans for the charity after the show, as well.

“At some point in the very near future, we’re going to start an instrument drive, as well, so we can just gather up extra stuff over the semester,” Hardy said. “At the end of the semester we’re going to drop it all off for them.”

All proceeds from the event will go to the Griot Youth Program, and there is a $10 minimum donation at the door.

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