In the past, this space has been filled with snide reports of local music folks getting together to take part in the holy order of "benefits," whether they be for the sake of raising money or putting out a CD or just getting some food and drink. Some benefits are quite industrious, like those that Home Alive held years ago in an effort to help women make the world a safer place for themselves. Some are displays of friendship and devotion, like numerous benefits held in recent years for a beloved roadie or sound guy who suffered a medical misadventure, broke some much-needed body part, and didn't have insurance to pay for treatment. Some are just plain selfish, raising money for silly reasons that I don't need to go into here again.

Several weeks ago, however, Posies/Sky Cries Mary/Sunny Day Real Estate bassist Joe Skyward, who is known more descriptively as Joe Bass, approached me in a Capitol Hill watering hole and mentioned he was putting together a benefit that I found very interesting. Skyward had a bee in his bonnet about the crappy equipment the Seattle public school system's music departments have been left with after years of dunderheaded budget cuts. Skyward, the father of a teenager who is active in her school's music department, decided to do something about it in the form of Music Really Matters. "I'm starting a series of benefit concerts to raise money for the Seattle public school system's music departments that were raped by the Reagan/Bush era, and that Clinton/ Gore didn't really do much to improve the state of!" he said a couple of days ago when he called to inform me it was a go. The concerts will be tribute nights that (and here's the kicker) will feature AT LEAST ONE MEMBER OF THE ORIGINAL BAND BEING PAID HOMAGE. These are not your standard old tribute nights at which local musicians merely pay tribute to bands they love, or bands someone they love loves. No, these will be tributes with a cause, dammit, with each show featuring someone who knows what the hell the music is all about. Love as Laughter's Sam Jayne will be delighted to learn that the first event, happening Tues Dec 19 at Sit & Spin, will be a Yes tribute night, featuring local resident and Yes member Alan White on drums. On the heels of that will come a Gang of Four tribute, featuring that band's original bassist Dave Allen, who just happens to live in Portland now. (Of course lots of local rock luminaries will be involved, too, so maybe Jayne can get his Yes on outside of the Cha Cha Lounge?) Howard hopes the success of the first two benefits, and the ripple effect of celebrity, will enable him to get more famous musicians involved in Music Really Matters--maybe even Elton John and David Bowie, he's thinking. Well! I'll settle for Joey Santiago for a Pixies night, Peter Buck for an REM night, or whomever those celebs can get on the horn. Alas, I've come to terms with the fact that there probably won't be a Jesus and Mary Chain tribute night, since it's been made clear to me that William Reid has no intention whatsoever of relocating his new family to West Seattle. Speaking of Brits, John Wesley Harding must have scads of U.K. connections that he can get lined up to help out Seattle's school system. Whatd'ya say, Wes?