Pittsfield Rallies for Plunkett Street Fire VictimsBy Joe Durwin
Special to iBerkshires
01:37PM / Wednesday, December 28, 2011
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was with great dismay that many in Pittsfield learned last Monday of a devastating fire on Plunkett Street.
Music promoter Andy Poncherello said he helped book the benefit for no other reason than to help 'a good friend.'
The house, which was owned by Ward 2 City Councilor Peter White, and where his mother, Claudia Jean White, and tenant Charles Ellsworth lived, was severely damaged. Most devastating was the loss of all of Claudia White's three pets, who died during the blaze.
The tragic accident was immediately followed by a vast outpouring of sympathy for the the Whites, both of whom are active in the community and considered a friend by many. Within the first few hours after the fire, progress was already well under way for a benefit event. Local music promoter Andy Poncherello of Rebel Sound Records booked Chameleons nightclub on East Street for Tuesday night and began lining up musical acts and donated items for an auction.
Poncherello said it was Jenn Smith from The Berkshire Eagle who first called to tell him of the fire, wondering if there was any way he might be able to help. Poncherello, who is well known locally for his extensive contacts with musical talent and has organized a number of successful charitable events in recent years, said the decision came easily.
"When I got the call about the fire, I knew I had to do something. Pete has been nothing but a good friend to me. He's not my ward rep and long before he said to me he thought about running for state rep he was supportive of my crazy endeavors. He did this when a vote didn't matter and will still do this as he is currently out of politics for the time being. He cares about Pittsfield more than most people and since I live here, it's almost like returning the favor," Poncherello said.
The five-hour fundraiser featured a truly diverse array of at least 10 acts, encompassing such genres as rock, pop, hip-hop, punk, funk, metal, and acoustic doom.
An additional raffle included as part of the event offered more than 30 donated items and packages of value, including merchandise, services, gift certificates and original art.
The 200 or so attendees were nearly as diverse as the music and raffle items — ranging from an array of current and former politicians to many familiar faces dating back to the days when Peter White used to draw bands from all around the region to play shows in his Plunkett Street basement.
Among the latter was Walter Bradley III, who performed as Dreimz alongside partner TNT at Tuesday's benefit.
"The first time I saw Section 8 was in his mom's basement and it blew me away and changed how I would look at and perform music for the rest of my life. Those shows in that house are a big reason Dreimz is the musician and performer. So I will always have a special place in my heart for Pete and that house," Bradley said.
In total the event raised $4,740 for Ellsworth and Claudia White, which is added to another $1,800 that was donated prior to the event, according to Peter Marchetti, also a city councilor and who, along with Tanya Mullin, helped organize the fund through Pittsfield Cooperative Bank.