Saturday, August 2, 2014

A benefit for Greg Germani: Atlanta's honky tonk hero

Posted By on Sat, Aug 2, 2014 at 9:00 AM

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  • Courtesy of Beth Anne Harrill
By now everyone in Atlanta knows the story: Cyclist Greg Germani was viciously run down by a red SUV and left for dead. Thanks to concerned friends, and strangers and a healthy reward fund, the vehicle was found, and the suspect has been collared. But this is only one small step in the long and difficult journey Germani is facing. His injuries are devastating. In addition to multiple other physical damages, Germani suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, his greatest medical concern. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.

Needless to say, the man has many friends and fans, and the response has been immense. But his journey is just beginning. According to his girlfriend, Beth Anne Harrill, "The support has been overwhelming, and extraordinary. Everyone knew he was special, and they all want to help." Harrill notes, "People are outraged by this, but more concerned about his welfare."

Germani was moved from Grady's Neuro ICU to a private hospital in Midtown, and while his condition is still somewhat critical he has now progressed enough to go to the Shepherd Center, where he will continue to receive intensive rehabilitation.

So who is this guy that so many have risen to support? What is it about this particular case that has inspired so many to donate money, share information in social media, provide food and service for the family, and collectively bond in pursuit of justice?

Germani is one of the most pleasant and friendliest people in town. He is somewhat of a local celebrity in his own way, through his multiple interests and diverse connections to the community. For years he has been an avid and law abiding cyclist who rides from his home in Decatur to Midtown every day for work. He participates in fundraising bike rides for organizations such as the American diabetes Association.

While not a musician, he is very active in the local "Redneck Underground" roots music scene. Germani is a classic country music connoisseur with an encyclopedic knowledge of honky tonk, and a massive record collection, and he often works as a DJ at various country shows and radio stations around town. He is also a show booker who brings obscure, and always great, country artists to town. He and his close friends spend their own money to make these events happen. An avid history buff, Germani is also the host of Atlanta Time Machine, where, for years, he has researched and published "before and after" photographs of Georgia landmarks. Old archival pictures from bygone eras are paired with his own contemporary snapshots of the same sites. It is a fascinating, entertaining and educational way to spend a few hours on the Internet.

While Germani's ultimate prognosis is not known at this time, given the extent of his injuries he is likely looking at months of rehab and recovery. Even with insurance, co-pays and medical bills are going to be high. According to Harrill, "We have heard from people all over the world, and many of Greg's music friends, such as Nashville artists Kenny Vaughn and Chris Scruggs, both of whom have played shows that Germani booked at Kavarn, and have offered to do benefits."

The first of many benefit concerts will be held tonight (Sat., Aug. 2) at the Star Bar, starting at 7 p.m., featuring performances by several of Germani's favorite local bands, including Ghost Rider Car Club, the Blacktop Rockets, Caroline & the Ramblers, and more. $10 Donations are being take at the door, and the event will also feature merchandise and services to be raffled and auctioned throughout the evening. All proceeds go to Germani's medical fund.

A GoFundMe site has also been set up for donations, and has already surpassed $25,000. Plans are also in the works for more future fundraisers to assist with the medical care costs and whatever rehab Germani may need.

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