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Wendy Reuer, Published July 08 2012

Benefit pays tribute to local musician Cody Conner

FARGO – Drumbeats and guitar riffs echoed through this city’s downtown Sunday as about 30 local performers paid tribute to a lost friend while creating a path for a new generation to find their sound. The Aquarium, HoDo Lounge, VFW, Dempsey’s, Sidestreet Grille and Pub, and the Pickled Parrot lined up sets of bands, singers and comedians as part of the Cody Conner Memorial Concert.

Conner, 30, died on June 6. He played guitar in the blues jam bands Moody River Band and Bad Mojo.

Conner’s friends, Corey Krueger, Christopher Larson and Pat Lenertz, among many other metro musicians, helped set up the memorial concert to raise money to help his family with the funeral costs.

On Sunday, Lenertz, who attended Moorhead High School with Conner, said the organizers set a capped amount to donate for funeral expenses and the rest of funds raised would be set aside in a Cody Conner Memorial Fund designed to help buy musical instruments for children.

“The details are yet to be determined, but we’ll be donating instruments to kids,” Lenertz said.

Despite the warm and humid air, the crowds were picking up early.

Grant Wigen of Rustic Rhythm said the band had a gig the night before and the early Sunday night crowd numbers already rivaled what they saw late Saturday.

“We’re really, really happy to see people come out for this,” Wigen said.

Kenny Butler said the idea of a musical benefit for Conner was fitting.

Conner was described by his friends and co-workers at Dempsey’s as a genuinely talented and greatly generous man.

“There is just such great music on (the Fargo-Moorhead) scene,” Wigen said. “It’s really nice to see all of them come together in this way and honor (Conner); it is just amazing.”

More than 30 acts lined up sets at the six venues such as Fancy That, Heavy is the Head, Rustic Rhythm, San Haven Chuckle, Bad Weather Burlesque, Sovereign Sect and others, including The Moody River Band, which Conner played in.

Lenertz said the performers jumped at the chance to honor Conner.

“It was captivating and it was inspiring to see the response. In just a week’s time we almost had all of the bands,” he said. “It was just such a crazy response, we decided just to go with it.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530