Music for Mankind

A musical benefit in Apex will support Hawkwing, founded by Rochelle Ripley, center, to help Native Americans.

Here’s something you don’t see in Apex every day: Music. Food. And a chance to help the Native Americans living on reservations.

You’ll find all three at The Music Benefit for The People of The Cheyenne River & Standing Rock Reservations, hosted by the nonprofit Hawkwing on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Peak of the Vine.

“My grandmother was a full-blooded Lakota Indian growing up on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota,” said Barry “Bear” Kaeck of Apex. “Conditions were horrible there, with much poverty. She told my sister Rochelle all about it, and as a child Rochelle promised to help our people.”

As an adult, Rochelle Ripley traveled to the reservation and found out for herself about its living conditions. Mentored by late Lakota elder Wallace Black Elk and Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Ripley became an unofficial member of the Sioux tribe, and founded Hawkwing to help.

In 2015, Ripley was named a CNN Top 10 Hero Award for her efforts.

While Ripley lives in Connecticut, Kaeck serves on the board of Hawkwing and does his part to support work on the reservation through educational and building projects.

Kaeck and Ripley also recently spent time at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, site of oil pipeline protests.

“Here in Apex, Hawkwing is offering this live musical event to raise awareness and donations,” Kaeck said. He notes that 92 percent of cash donations to the all-volunteer Hawkwing go directly to its reservation programs, and the rest to the organization’s operating expenses.

A longtime musician, Kaeck has put together a musical lineup featuring his own band, Tom Cat, The Bear & Friends, plus Finally Friday; Blue Sky Cryin’; Rosie’s Five & Dime; Jamie “Elwood” Matthews; and Tortuga Stone.

Solo artists scheduled to appear include Jack Hnatt; Larry Butterton of Peak City Blues Project; Rob Neville and the band Awkwardly Friendly; blues singer Kara of Apex; Kevin Fontaine; percussionist John Donnellan; Brad Moody; Frank Brown, who has played with the Blues Brothers; Brittney Davis; and Saxman Shanks.

Several Apex restaurants have agreed to deliver orders to Peak of the Vine, and Kaeck is working to arrange for food trucks.

“People want to help America’s first people, but they don’t know how,” he said. “Come out and expect to learn a lot about life on an Indian reservation. Expect to be better for the experience.”

Peak of the Vine is located at 115 N. Salem St. in Apex.

Admission to the Hawkwing benefit, which runs from 2 to 8 p.m., is $5 at the door.

For more information about Hawkwing, see or contact Kaeck at or (610) 781-3188.

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