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*A reminder that 2U, the U2 tribute band, will be playing at Hard Rock Café Foxwoods tonight. The show will in part benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society's Conservation Cotton Initiative, a program which will help life African farmers out of p



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*A reminder that 2U, the U2 tribute band, will be playing at Hard Rock Café Foxwoods tonight. The show will in part benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Conservation Cotton Initiative, a program which will help life African farmers out of poverty by providing education on proper land management, organic cotton growing techniques, and wildlife conservation (15 percent of net sales from each shirt sold will benefit to society).

General admission tickets are $16.50 and VIP tickets, which will include one of Bono’s Signature Series T-shirts and priority seating, are $38.50. Doors will open at 9 and showtime is 10 pm.

*Two great-sounding events are planned for this weekend in Bridgeport, both happening within the historic Black Rock section of the city.

The first is the third annual Black Rock Rocks Mardi Gras fundraising party, which will run from 3 pm until midnight on Saturday at The Acoustic Café (2926 Fairfield Avenue, in Bridgeport’s Black Rock area; telephone 203-335-3655). The first hour of the February 2 event will be a showcase of local artists’ work, and then live music starts at 4 and will run all night. Admission for $10 for adults, $5 age 21 and under, and the show is all-ages until 8 pm.


The event begins at 3 pm with a showcase of local exhibiting artists. Live music begins at 4 pm and will continue all night.

New Orleans style food, along with drink specials and Louisiana’s Abita beer, will be available for purchase throughout the afternoon and evening. The live entertainment features two stages of continuous music until closing. Items donated by various local businesses will be raffled. Local artists, in conjunction with Saginachoe Art Collective, will provide artwork created for the event, all of which is available for sale.

The café has again promised that 100% of this year’s funds go to the charity of choice, which this year is Tipitina’s Foundation in New Orleans.

For more information about Black Rock Rocks Mardi Gras, call Angel Telesco at 203-243-3778 or visit myspace.com/fattuez, AcousticCafe.com and TipitinasFoundation.org.

The second event taking place in Black Rock tomorrow that I know about, also on Fairfield Avenue, is the opening reception for Black Rock Art Center’s Black History Celebration. The gallery of the arts center will be hosting an exhibition of photographs by Yves Francois Wilson and Deana Lawson and slave artifacts that were collected by Craig Kelly all month, which of course is Black History Month.

Tomorrow from 4 to 7 pm, the gallery opening for this show will run from 4 to 7 pm. There will be a musical performance by RENARD BOISSIERE at 6 pm, and food from Miss Thelma’s Soul Food Restaurant. Admission is free. The gallery is at 2838 Fairfield Avenue and can be reached by calling 203-367-7917.

*Beyond this weekend’s shows there are a few more very cool shows set up for February at The Acoustic Café: NYC-based wicked good singer-songwriter MILTON will be opening for DYLAN CONNOR on February 16, and tickets are only $8 (!!!), and then the legendary DUKE ROBILLARD and band will be at the café on the 22nd, along with Paul Gabriel, who will offer the opening set. Tickets for that show are $20, which is still quite a deal.

*Tickets will be going on sale tomorrow morning (February 2) at 10 for PANIC AT THE DISCO’s May 10 show at the Chevrolet Theatre in Wallingford. Motion City Soundtrack, The Hush Sound and Phantom Planet will all have opening sets. Tickets are $35 each, with a limited number of general admission pit tickets available; just ask for them when you’re buying your tickets.

*On Monday at 10 tickets for TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS, who will be at Dodge Music Center in Hartford on Wednesday, June 11, will be going on sale. These tickets have been set $29.50 for the lawn and $65 and $99 for the pavilion area.

Steve Winwood will have the opening set.

These tickets, as well as the aforementioned ones for Panic at The Disco, will be available online at LiveNation.com and through all TicketMaster vendors and outlets.

*Critically acclaimed songstress K.D. LAND will bring her 17-city US tour to The Palace Theater in Waterbury on Sunday, March 16, for a 7:30 show. Fortunately lang’s new album, Watershed, is due next week so there will be plenty of new material in next month’s show as well as favorites from the four-time Grammy winner.

Tickets for the Waterbury show range from $40 to $70 and are available through the theater’s box office, at 100 Each Main Street; online at PalaceTheaterCT.org; or over the phone by calling 203-755-4770.

*Also already on sale are tickets for the SPICE GIRLS World Tour, which hits the XL Center (former Hartford Civic Center) on Friday, February 22. These tickets, which have ben set at $69, $89 and $119.50, are available through all TicketMaster outlets and at the XL Center box office.

*We have some sad news to share this week, which you may have already heard through television news reports. Ben Wu, who was the booking agent and publicist for The Webster Theatre in Hartford, disappeared while he was vacationing in the British Virgin Islands earlier this month. He was there for a friend’s wedding and was last seen walking near Long Bay Beach Restort around 9:30 the morning of January 12, and hasn’t been seen since.

According to Jeff Franklin, Ben’s best friend and roommate, who sent out an email to many people this week, the extensive search by local police the US Coast Guard, and friends and family has been officially called off. It has been concluded, wrote Jeff, that Ben is presumed dead.

Ben’s may not have been a well-known name to the hundreds of thousands of people who attended concerts at The Webster since he began working there about 11 years ago (shortly after the club opened, in fact, in March 1996), but I can tell you that every journalist in this state – and plenty beyond Connecticut’s borders – know Ben either personally or through constant contact with him. He took care of sending out notes to let us know when shows had been scheduled, changed, cancelled, or sold out. He let us know when an artist would be particularly open to a pre-show interview, and was our point man for anything we hoped to set up through The Webster.

He seemed to always be available, and also seemed to live at The Webster. He returned calls and emails without hesitation, and he did a lot of good work. He was The Webster.

My friend and colleague John Voket had even more contact with Ben than I did and has asked for some space in this week’s column. So I offer the following, from John:

As a music writer, the most important aspect of the job involves access – to the bands and artists, the venues and the inside information that helps make for better coverage. Long before coming to work here at The Bee, Webster Theater booking agent Ben Wu was helping me obtain maximum access to many of the top artists coming through this exciting venue in Hartford.

From pit access to obtain some really compelling photography to helping facilitate interviews, and even occasional pre-show or backstage access to hang with the acts, Ben was always there for me, even though I didn’t represent the big time national press or magazines I would often share access with. Being a local guy, Ben always treated me and the local publications I represented, and especially The Bee, with what I know was the same level of professionalism as the big dailies and rock press that traveled in to cover shows at the Webster.

I was saddened in the hours following his reported disappearance while hiking in the British Virgin Islands a couple of weeks ago. While we all remained hopeful that the search for him would yield positive results, some closure was announced this week as his roommate and best friend of thirteen years, Jeff Franklin, announced that after an extensive search, it has been concluded that Ben accidentally fell into the ocean and is presumed dead.

Any music fan who has ever enjoyed a show, or any musician who has ever played the Webster, has directly or indirectly been touched by the capable work of Ben Wu. I encourage anyone to stop by the tribute site recently posted in his honor: BenWuFund.com

If you feel like it, please post a thought on the guest book page, and read the posts about the search and rescue. A memorial service is being planned and info about that will be available on the site as well. And there is a place to make a contribution in his name if you so choose.

The music industry has lost a good friend, supporter, and a consummate professional. We will miss you, Ben.

Comments are open. Be civil.

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