Community rallies to raise funds for Saul Rayo |

Community rallies to raise funds for Saul Rayo

Hindi Greenberg
Special to The Union
Friends of Saul Rayo, third from left, gathered for a fundraiser to help the iconic local musician with medical bills. When the dust settled, more than $23,000 was raised, with more on the horizon.

What does Nevada County do when one of its own, a long time icon, needs its help? We’ve seen it happen many times before and, once again, this community comes together and generously supports someone who needs assistance.

And when that someone is Saul Rayo, a beloved local musician, philanthropist and down-to-earth good guy, everyone does what they can to help.

When the word went out that Saul had been diagnosed with cancer and needed financial assistance for his medical treatments, it took only a few weeks for his friends and colleagues, John Taber, Peter Wilson and Mark McCartney, to put together musicians, volunteers, a silent auction and other amenities and logistics for a one night fundraiser titled “Rockin’ for Rayo.” That successful event was both fun and financially productive; it raised an amazing $23,403 for Saul’s benefit.

The fundraiser, held on May 24, seemed to magically coalesce — of course, with a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work and hours of time — and was attended by hundreds of people who generously deposited money into the kitty for Saul’s benefit; donations alone raised more than $11,000. With the Miners Foundry donating the venue, Robin Karlstadt coordinated the numerous volunteers and emcee duties were handled by Johnny Gallagher, Jai Dev Khalsa and Peter Wilson. From 7 p.m. until almost midnight, local musical groups contributed their tunes for Saul; the crowds danced to Achilles Wheel, Petty Luv, The Rayos, Objects in the Mirror, Lolo Gervais and her band, the Bob Woods Trio and other special guests.

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Additionally, a massive silent auction, with hundreds of donated items ranging from jewelry to gift certificates to art works to a greenhouse, covered the tops of tables that filled the Stone Hall in the Foundry. Coordinated by Patti Smith and Pinky Zalkin, the auction brought in more than $12,000.

All told, an amazing result.

Continuing to raise additional funds to cover Saul’s medical costs, The Rayos and Lou Meyer and Thomas Schuebel will be performing at the Wild Eye Pub on Mill Street in Grass Valley on June 8 at 6:30 p.m. You can stop in and have a beer or something to eat, listen to good music and support Saul.

That event will be followed by another benefit concert, held at the Besemer Concert Hall on Red Dog Road in Nevada City on June 9 at 2 p.m., and will feature Petty Luv playing an acoustic set, followed by Juliet Gobert and Homer Wills, also performing acoustic tunes, as well as The Rayos doing a short set. Tickets for this concert are $25 and can be obtained through Brown Paper Tickets (Saul Rayo Benefit) at For information, the contact is 530-470-0394 or

Although Nevada County often rallies for people who need help, Saul is well-known here because, for the past 25 years, he has been one of the main players in the Nevada County music scene. He and his wife, Elena, who have been together for 11 years and married for five of those years, perform together as The Rayos. Saul has organized and performed in countless fundraisers for others, including benefits for fire victims, homeless shelters and friends with health issues, as well as for SYRCL, KVMR, Sierra Harvest, and many other local organizations.

He has also performed in multitudes of shows, both locally and internationally, and has always donated at least a portion of his proceeds to various organizations.

Because of his generous and kind nature, a large number of people have donated to a GoFundMe site set up to provide for his medical expenses. If you would like to contribute, go to On that site, Saul has extended his thanks to everyone for supporting him in seeking both conventional and alternative remedies. He says, “Overall I’m not only feeling a bit better — all the prayers and love — I’m also completely optimistic! Friends make all the difference.”

Hindi Greenberg is a freelance writer for The Union and The Prospector.

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