WHAT: David Troy Francis’ benefit concert for Western North Carolina AIDS Project, featuring Red Hot Duo
WHERE: Asheville Country Club
WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 31, at 3 p.m.
WHY: As a gay man who lived in Los Angeles for 30 years, including the ’80s and ’90s, pianist David Troy Francis reports having lost more than 100 friends, business associates and partners to what became known as the AIDS Pandemic. “Of all the people I met in LA in the ’80s, three are alive today,” he says.
A particularly devastating situation saw Francis offering moral, financial and medical support for a bedridden lover until his AIDS-related death. “A church provided us with a small refrigerator to store the medicines, and another organization that sprung up bought him lunch every day. I couldn’t have gotten through that time without that help,” he says.
While the City of Angels is now brimming with organizations to meet various HIV- or AIDS-related needs, Francis says WNCAP is the only such organization he knows of in WNC. In addition to medical expenses, the nonprofit offers assistance with housing, counseling, transportation and more.
To support those efforts, Francis is pairing up with vocalist Carol Duermit plus a 7-foot Steinway, provided at a steep discount by Piano Emporium. And because an anonymous donor (known to Francis) has agreed to match proceeds from the upcoming concert, the event stands to raise $40,000 in one afternoon at capacity.
“I love playing for great singers,” Francis says, calling his stage partner an earthy songstress. “[Carol] has this wonderful full-throated, raspy voice.”
Red Hot Duo (Henry Westmoreland and Andrew Fletcher) opens the show before Francis and Duermit play a selection of Francis’ favorites, including numbers by Vangelis, Frédéric Chopin, Michel Legrand and more. “It’s going to be an eclectic, entertaining and hopefully spectacularly fun mix.”
Visit wncap.org or call the WNCAP office at 252-7489 for tickets ($100), which include a welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres and wine.