Route 91 Harvest Festival Tragedy – One Year Later
As we reach the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, we mourn the lives lost but we also celebrate the victims who are persevering through to recovery. We wanted to reflect on the incredible people we’ve met in and the healing music we’ve shared with the Las Vegas community.
THE DAYS FOLLOWING 1 OCTOBER
One week after the tragedy at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, Musicians On Call teamed up with the Country Music Association, CMT and Southwest Airlines® to bring members of the country music community, Charles Esten, Michael Ray, The Railers, Brandon Ray and Filmore to visit hospitals in Las Vegas, including Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, to bring joy through music in a time of need.
Musicians On Call did not have regular programs in Vegas at the time but saw the need to deliver the healing power of music. On Tuesday, October 10, Charles Esten, The Railers, and Filmore visited Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center to visit the patients, families and caregivers in patient rooms and offer impromptu serenades at hospital desks. Later that evening, The Railers and Filmore made an inspiring visit to the Emergency Room staff to thank the caregivers who were working the night of the tragedy, and performed a heartwarming rendition of “Lean on Me” among others, which was received with hugs, tears and kind words of gratitude.
On Wednesday, October 11, Michael Ray and Brandon Ray, joined the lineup for a “Concert for Healing” at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Michael and Brandon performed at the Route 91 Festival, making them the first singers from the festival to go back to Vegas to perform for survivors of the tragedy. Patients, caregivers and first responders who were affected by the tragedy were invited for the performance to heal together through music. After the performance, patients were surprised with a video call from country music icon, Reba McEntire, who gave well wishes for a speedy recovery.
“These hospital visits were some of the most emotional ones I’ve ever been a part of, “ said Pete Griffin, President of Musicians On Call. “Because the patients we played for were injured during a concert just down the road, it made the songs and reactions to them even more powerful and emotional for everyone. These visits also highlighted a group of people in need of healing who many people don’t think about: our caregivers. The first responders and civilians did an incredible job rescuing the victims from danger, and the caregivers had to then begin to diagnose and treat an overwhelming amount of people, some of them their friends. Being able to bring music and healing to the caregivers was an incredibly important piece of the trip.”
BRINGING THE HEALING POWER OF MUSIC BACK TO LAS VEGAS
With the profound connections we made on this trip, we knew we wanted to return and bring more joy from music to Las Vegas.
In April Musicians On Call launched our first ongoing Bedside Performance Programs at Sunrise Health System hospitals, thanks to a $150,000 grant from ACM Lifting Lives®, the philanthropic arm of the Academy of Country Music. Michael Ray returned to kick-off the new program with a concert for the hospital. To date, we’ve played for more than 700 patients, families and caregivers in Vegas and have welcomed 10 more volunteers into the Musicians On Call family, including Volunteer Guide, and Route 91 survivor, Nadine Lusmoeller.
“I am proud to say that I’m actually part of Musicians on Call now, to be able to volunteer and give back means so much to me,” said Nadine, “The tragedy of 1 October had me in one of those hospital beds, but music helped me heal. Now it is on me to keep spreading the healing vibes of music – with the help of Musicians On Call!”
A CELEBRATION OF SURVIVAL
On September 14th, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center welcomed back past patients from Route 91 to celebrate their survival, reconnect with their care team and remember those who lost their lives in the tragedy. More than 50 survivors and their family members were joined by hospital leadership, care team members, physicians, first responders and other community partners who played an integral role in care delivery the night of 1 October, as well as in the days that followed.
Musicians On Call volunteers, Ivy and the Wall, returned to Sunrise Hospital following their 2017 emergency response performance in the aftermath of the shooting. Once again, Jonathan and Cassandra Lawson brought the healing power of music to our patients and caregivers to commemorate the 1-year anniversary.
Sergeant Todd Kammer and his wife, Sheriff Deputy Lori Kammer, with the LA County Sheriff’s office attended the festival together off-duty. Lori recalled how Todd carried her to safety after she was injured. The Kammers returned to Sunrise Hospital for this event, where they shared how much the visit from Michael Ray meant to them.
We are eternally grateful to all the community partners, artists and volunteers who have helped us spread the healing power of music in Las Vegas over the past year. We look forward to continuing to be a part of the Las Vegas community and sharing unforgettable moments of joy through song.