Sounds like a good cause

If you’ve grown weary of war in one part of the world, allow yourself a moment to think about peace in another.

Elsewhere in this issue, we chronicle the recent work of PeaceTrees Vietnam, through which one-time combatants are salving the wounds of the long-ago conflict in Southeast Asia through friendship missions and aid. We should at the same time note that Bainbridge Island has another excellent relief organization active there, Clear Path International, whose mission is wholly complementary – relief from the random destruction of leftover land mines.

Some 30 years after the end of organized hostilities, the Southeast Asian countryside remains seeded with death in the form of tens of thousands of mines and unexploded ordnance pieces; the scourge has cost the lives of an estimated 80,000 Cambodians, and maimed countless more. The numbers in Vietnam are as dismal, particularly the loss of limbs and lives of children.

Clear Path provides aid to those innocents wounded by the explosive byproducts of the war, an effort that has enjoyed the support of the Bainbridge Island community for some time. So local music fans should know that the organization has released “Too Many Years,” a 70-minute benefit CD with performances by such luminaries as pop chanteuse Natalie Merchant and alt-rock icon Juliana Hatfield. The disc has something for most contemporary tastes (except rap, thank goodness), and should appeal to folks who spend their radio-listening day with the dial tuned to adult-contemporary fare.

We know there are some John McEuen fans around –

several hundred of you recently packed Grace Church for a Clear Path benefit performance – and his Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is among the bluegrass acts represented, along with the Yonder Mountain String Band. Fans of Grateful Dead-esque “jam bands” should groove to the String Cheese Incident and Dark Star Orchestra. And no hairline has receded so far that the solo work of Jefferson Airplaine’s Jorma Kaukonen will go unappreciated. The disc closes out with a track by renowned composer Philip Glass, a spare piano piece that served as the title track to “Fog of War,” an Oscar-winning documentary on Robert McNamara, the Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense.

All of the artists provided their songs royalty-free, so Clear Path will get about eight bucks from every $12 CD purchase. The disc is available in a limited run through the Clear Path International website, www.cpi.org, and organizers also hope to see it on the counters of island merchants. Proceeds support medical care and surgery, hospitalization, household economic support and occupational therapy for mine victims.

Even in peacetime, the destruction in Southeast Asia has gone on for “Too Many Years”; ergo the moniker for this excellent collection of artists and music. Bravo to Clear Path and its participating talent for such a stellar effort.

It’ll drown out the sound of explosions any day.

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