When Ivan Neville and his band Dumpstaphunk headline the B.E. Easy Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, they will come bearing some funky syncopation, socially conscious messages and a stage ritual that may be apt for the occasion.
"We bring a song called 'Put It in the Dumpster,' a kind of a jam where if you are holding onto any bad vibes, or dealing with bad grudges and bad substances, we say it's time to let them go," says Neville, son of Aaron Neville and a former member of the Neville Brothers. "We chant over and over, 'Put it in the dumpster! Put it in the dumpster!' "
Neville, who chucked his own addictions in the trash ("cocaine and alcohol") 15 years ago, thinks his message applies well to B.E. Easy, an all-day fiesta of big-band reggae, funk and sober times. An event created to sound off about the pitfalls of drug addiction, the concert will take place at pavilions 1 and 2 in Fort Lauderdale's Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and feature a 10-act bill that includes local musicmakers the Resolvers, Uproot Hootenanny and the Funky Nuggets.
For organizer Topher Evans, the show pays tribute in particular to the memory of 23-year-old Ben Evans, his brother, who died of an opiate overdose in October 2011. With his mother, Mary Jane, Evans created the festival to collect proceeds for B.E. Easy Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit that gives financial aid to young adults seeking addiction treatment.
Topher says the festival honors his brother's fondness for jam bands and South Florida venues, including the Culture Room and Revolution Live, where Ben often indulged a quirky hobby: selling his collection of fossilized clams to concertgoers. In and out of drug-treatment programs for years, Ben, who was born with a "very painful" hip deficiency, picked up his opiate addiction after a doctor prescribed him painkillers at age 19.
Ben would always say, 'Be easy and stay groovy.' That was his lifestyle, too," says Evans, 28. "The concert will be a supportive place, because everyone knows someone with an addiction. If friends or family suspect someone is taking drugs, speaking up is a very large part of the therapy."
Representatives from the Davie-based treatment center Inspirations Youth and the Fort Lauderdale-based Cove Center for Recovery will be on hand to answer concertgoers' questions about substance abuse.
Food trucks HipPops, Nacho Bizness, Veggie Express, Jefe’s Original, Sugar Yummy Mama and Catered Bliss will also be on site, as will a dozen arts-and-craft vendors and a raffle for tickets to upcoming concerts.
The second annual B.E. Easy Music and Arts Festival will take place noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (3109 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets cost $35. Go to BeEasyMusicAndArtsFestival.com.