DeKALB – Four years after his death, Camille Piazza and Eric Sterling were missing political comedian George Carlin.
“When George Carlin used to do his acts, people were able to unite and laugh at the system,” Piazza said. “We need to kind of revive that whole outspokenness, to get out into an open forum and celebrate our freedom of speech.”
Then Sterling thought of it – a charity concert dedicated to the late stand-up comedian. The two ran with it, and they will host the concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the domestic violence/sexual assault center Safe Passage.
“We thought with the upcoming election, circulating it around George Carlin ... we thought the timing was absolutely perfect,” Piazza said.
Cover charge is $7, which includes a raffle ticket. Without a raffle ticket, the cover charge is $4.
The concert will feature what Piazza called an eclectic mix of artists, including Hemmingbirds, a Chicago-based indie rock band; D-Rick, a hip hop artist with empowering lyrics; and Hasta Lumbago, a local punk band.
Each artist featured Saturday has a message, Piazza said.
Piazza said she has organized other charity concerts at The House Cafe before, but it wasn’t until she saw Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin-McCall, perform stand-up that she knew what CarlinFest should benefit.
Carlin-McCall recounted a story in which her dad threatened a man who was abusing her. After seeing Carlin-McCall’s reaction on stage, Piazza and Sterling knew the concert should benefit Safe Passage.
Piazza and Sterling approached the shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault about hosting the concert, which they in turn supported, said Marj Askins, a community educator who does legal and medical advocacy for Safe Passage’s sexual assault program.
Askins said the event helps Safe Passage get its name out in the community, but it also funds the organization.
“[Safe Passage] relies on funding that isn’t always available from the government,” said Askins, which in turn emphasizes the need for private donations.
DeKalb police Chief Eugene Lowery described Safe Passage as an essential component of responding to domestic violence and sexual assaults.
“The sooner they’re inserted into the process, with the discipline and skill sets they have, the more effective or greater the chance there might be a successful resolution to the ... causes of the situation,” Lowery said.
Lowery said there have been 1,058 domestic situations (including domestic batteries, aggravated batteries and domestic incidents without violence) reported to DeKalb police this year. Lowery said this number is on pace with last year.
In addition to a portion of the ticket sales, there also will be a raffle for two portraits of Carlin created by local Sharpie artist Justin McAllister.
Piazza said money from that raffle will go to Safe Passage. A limited number of raffle tickets will be sold for $5 each.