Back in September, Pete Stein lost both of his feet in a train jumping accident in Oregon. In the intervening days, bars and south side eateries have set donation jars on their countertops to raise money for Pete's mounting medical bills, and his friends jumped at the chance to throw a full-fleged benefit in his honor. Tonight, Off Broadway hosts Stumped: A Benefit for the Rebuilding of Pete Stein.
Ben Smith and Valentine Ubaldo started planning the event shortly after they found out about their friend. "It just seemed like the right thing to do. Planning a show, it's just the natural reaction -- pull everyone together and have some kind of music event," Smith says. "I think it speaks to what people in this town are willing to do when someone's in a crazy, tragic situation like this. It's cool."
The event starts tonight at 8 p.m., with music from Pete's friends and favorite bands including the Funs from Chicago, Bob Reuter and Alley Ghost, Theodore, and Nrml Ppl. Seven bucks will get you in the door, but you'll want to bring a little extra scrill for the raffle and a silent art auction.
"Seeing him back totally reinforced the thought in my mind that we gotta help the guy out. It was so strange and surreal to see him in a wheelchair, hanging out on the street outside a show just like good old Pete always does," says Smith.
The pair asked local artists to donate their wares to the auction, and Ubaldo said even artists who'd never met Pete personally were willing to help out. Smith said he had to turn down offers from multiple bands who wanted to play in support.
"He's pretty much a staple in this city. He and his family have been around here ever since I came to the city. He's a good guy and I feel really bad about this happening to him," says Ubaldo. "Everyone has been really generous and really supportive. I've basically been flooded with emails, and so far I've gotten some pretty cool things. You can get some really, really great art for pretty cheap."
Local businesses like the Silver Ballroom, the Royale, Tower Classic Tattooing, the Mudhouse and Apop Records have donated gift certificates and swag to the event, so much, in fact, that Smith is worried that there's too much stuff to give away.
"I just want to see a good crowd of people. I want everyone to be there and have fun and bring money for raffle and art, just enjoy themselves and, you know, be generous," says Smith.
All the proceeds and donations from the event go directly to Pete, to help offset the cost of his prosthetics and medical bills. Ubaldo said anyone who wanted to donate art and didn't get a chance to can bring it tonight.
As for how Pete's feeling?
"He's excited. I think he's humbled by it, you've got all these people making a big deal and trying to help you out," says Smith. "And naturally he's probably a little bit bashful about it. But I think he's totally stoked and really excited everyone in St. Louis is willing to help out."