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June 21-27, 2006

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Day One Symphony

Car Wash: Day One Symphony won't let a car accident spoil its momentum.

Lucky Day

A car accident puts the brakes on Day One Symphony's career

By Claire Taylor


ON MAY 11, the world looked good to San Jose ambient rock band Day One Symphony. They were slated to open for Live 105's BFD concert, were working on new material for an upcoming full-length and were driving northbound 101 to see Dredg perform at the Fillmore in San Francisco. But as they listened to "Echoes" by Pink Floyd, a car on their right swerved to avoid a motorcyclist and slammed into their car. "It's a rare moment ... when we're all in a car together," says lead vocalist and guitarist David Knight. "We had taken a month off [from touring] and had just started writing again. There was a lot of hope and excitement, then ... crash."

The force of the vehicle propelled their car across the barrier into southbound traffic, where it was hit by a taxi, causing the brunt of the damage. When the ambulance and authorities arrived and the guys were removed from the thrashed car, they were all alive. David, who was driving, suffered a broken leg and collapsed lung—the worst injuries of the four band mates—and was hospitalized for 10 days. Guitarist and Rhodes-massager Danny Hellevig had fractures and cuts in various places on his face, resulting in 27 stitches in his lip and gums, and also lost one of his front teeth; he now has to wear braces for the second time in his life. Drummer Steve Barry has dealt with whiplash and his chest was burned from his seat belt, and bassist Jimi Bartlett came away with a broken finger and minor scrapes and bruises.

Within hours of the crash, David's brother Rob wrote an entry about the accident on the band's MySpace site. He posted photos of the injuries, illustrating the severity of their wounds. Rob later also published photos of the remains of David's vehicle, twisted and mangled and cut open. Comments and emails poured in from fans, and some even visited the guys in the hospital. David says the band has received cards and well-wishes from as far away as Germany. "In all honesty, we're surprised people actually care enough and are willing to take the time to write us, offer their money, offer their blessings, whatever," he says. "We love our fans. They stepped up big time. We can't thank them enough."

The band has had to cancel several shows, including BFD on June 10 and Pacific Art Collective's Collabo event, held at Avalon this Friday. 'We're learning to have a sense of humor about this whole thing," David says. "The timing of it was awful. But we'll be playing music again soon ... and Shoreline isn't going anywhere." The band may begin playing shows again as early as July, David says.

For nearly a month after the crash, the accident was considered a hit and run, with no other drivers involved coming forward to claim responsibility. With David's 10-day hospital stay and Hellevig and Barry also hospitalized, by David's estimate the band racked up more than $100,000 in medical expenses.

The drivers and motorcyclist involved in the accident have since been identified, but David says it's unlikely the motorcyclist at fault will have enough insurance to cover the band's medical expenses.

Friends, family and fans of the quartet came together to create a series of benefit shows for the band. A recent showing of a film at the King's Head Pub in Campbell was the first of these shows, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the group. Andrew Kutsenda, booker for San Jose Skate, says it was his girlfriend's idea to set up a show. "We really just want to help out a band that has given the scene such incredible music for as long as they have," says Kutsenda. He says a number of local acts have stepped up for the cause. "Other than one band giving me the virtual finger, I've had nothing but good reactions to what we're trying to do."


More benefit shows are being arranged. Visit www.dayonesymphony.com/accident for further information.


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