A couple weeks ago, the Phoenix brought you the sad and disturbing tale of Vicente Lebron. A native of the Dominican Republic, Lebron has been living in the US for nearly 40 years. He has a wife. He has American-born children and grandchildren. And he has many friends in the local music community who love him for his personality and respect him for the percussive prowess on display when he pounds congas and timbales with Cambridge’s Either/Orchestra, with whom he’s played for a decade.
But in mid May, when the band touched down at Logan after a European tour, Lebron was detained by Immigration and Naturalization Services, working under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. His passport and green card were confiscated. And, after a hearing on June 9, he was sequestered at the South Bay Correctional Center.
We wish we could tell you the matter has been resolved, but we can’t. Details are still murky, and Lebron is still behind bars, scheduled for a deportation hearing this Thursday. “I’m not a lawyer,” says Either/Orchestra co-founder Russ Gershon. “I don’t know what all this means. But he’s still in. That much I know.”
What we can tell you is that a benefit to help defray Lebron’s legal expenses has been set for Wednesday, July 16, at Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square. More than a dozen bands, including Orchestra Morphine, Gypsy Schaeffer, Willie “Loco” Alexander, Gabrielle Agachiko, Ruthie Ristich, Rumbafrica, Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorer’s Club, and Club d’Elf, have signed on to perform.
“The number of people who’ve stepped up to the plate and said, ‘I wanna play, I wanna play, I wanna do this,’ is unbelievable,” says Gershon.
One can only hope that, by the time the show rolls around, common sense will have prevailed at his deportation hearing, and Lebron will once again be a free man in his adopted country.
“It’s really stupid,” says Gershon. “This whole thing. I mean, c’mon. This guy, he’s lived here for 38 years. He’s got a family here. He’s a really beloved guy. Besides being a really great musician, he’s just a guy who everybody loves. And they just can’t believe this can be happening to him.”
The Vicente Lebron Benefit Show takes place Wednesday, July 16, at Ryles Jazz Club, 212 Hampshire Street, Cambridge. Call 617.876.9330. Admission is $10, and donations can also be mailed to Luz Lebron, c/o Accurate Records, 343 Medford Street, Suite 4A, Somerville, Massachusetts 02145.