A tragic day for a popular Queen City band has a silver lining.
Monday morning fire ripped through an apartment building in Burlington's Old North End. But within hours, help was pouring in for the tenant and his band. Although Funkwagon lost thousands of dollars in equipment, local artists are vowing to help the band get back to making music.
"We've opened up for Mos Def, and Bernie Worrell, Parliament. We've been to Montreal, Boston, Martha's Vineyard, New York, Cleveland," said musician Aaron Burroughs.
Burroughs quit his corporate job in Michigan nearly a decade ago and moved to Burlington to follow his dream of starting a band.
Nine years later, Funkwagon has found its niche in the local music scene. Front man Burroughs calls it an incredible journey.
"This year it's been supporting me. Which is why today was such a big tragedy because you never know how you're going to recover," said Burroughs.
That tragedy was a fire at Burroughs' Burlington apartment on Riverside Avenue Monday morning. Firefighters contained the flames mostly to his unit, though neighboring apartments did see some damage.
The musician wasn't home when the blaze broke out and is grateful no one was hurt, but says he's devastated by what this could mean for the band. His piano, amps, microphones, cables -- and more -- all ruined. Thousands of dollars of equipment lost to the fire.
"They are my whole life, as any musician will tell you. And by us only getting paid according when we show up to play, we stand to lose quite a bit of money sitting on the bench," said Burroughs.
But it was only a matter of hours before Burroughs got some good news. Alex Budney, co-owner of Nectar's, heard about the fire and wanted to help. Talk of a benefit concert began and by the afternoon it was a done deal.
"It doesn't surprise me, but how fast everyone got back to me-- like within an hour-- was amazing. Like everyone was 100 percent in, no questions asked," said Budney.
Six bands have already signed up for the fundraiser Feb. 20 at Club Metronome. Budney calls Burroughs a pillar of the local music community and says he deserves the help during this tough time.
"He has touched so many people through his band-- not to mention just his personality is infectious-- just as far as a positive person and someone who always has such high goals for music, personally, and for other people. And he is very supportive to those around him," said Budney.
Help, Burroughs says, he couldn't believe.
"I'm overwhelmed. I don't know what to say. I can't thank everybody enough, because prior to today I was feeling like I was out here by myself. And I don't feel that way anymore," said Burroughs.
The fire has been ruled an accident but the Burlington Fire Marshal is still investigating.
Concert organizers say tickets for the fundraiser are already on sale. For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/388567334613200/