What started as a fun night out for Bryan Clay, as he celebrated his birthday with friends and family at a nearby bar, ended in tragedy when he and his wife returned to find their home gutted by an electrical fire.
The December 8 fire also burned up Mr. Clay’s collection of instruments, which included eight guitars, two keyboards, a baby grand piano, a bass guitar and other string instruments. Smoke and water ruined his in-home recording studio.
The 20-year veteran musician, who lived in Hampton Bays before moving to Mastic Beach, was left with only the disc jockey equipment he had taken with him to the party.
Mr. Clay, who has spent much of his musical career doing shows to support the homeless, is himself without a home now. However, his brother, Tim Bennett of Hampton Bays, is doing his best to remedy the situation.
Mr. Bennett has reached out to friends to drum up support by way of gift cards for the Clays. He’s contacted corporations such as Lowe’s and Home Depot to see if they can lend a hand, too.
Mr. Bennett has organized a January 20 fundraiser at Cowfish in Hampton Bays to help his brother get back on his feet.
“The house is repairable, the fire did not go through the roof, but everything else was destroyed, so they’re going through a tough time,” Mr. Bennett said. “They need a house to live in for about a year. As of February 1, they’ll be homeless.”
Mr. Clay, a 1988 Hampton Bays High School graduate, and his wife are staying at the Beaver Dam Creek House on Pleasant Avenue in Westhampton for the month while the owner of the bed-and-breakfast, who is their friend, is out of town.
Along with the instruments, many of which were signed by famous musicians such as Ozzy Osbourne, Bret Michaels and Randy Jackson of Zebra, the Clays lost 14 cats in the fire. Ms. Clay ran a rescue out of the house through the Long Island Spay and Neuter Fund.
Insurance will cover repairs on the house, but the process is likely to take about a year to complete, Mr. Clay said. Meanwhile, he has been unable to work since suffering an on-the-job injury last summer while landscaping at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck, a special needs summer camp in Center Moriches, and is the process of trying to procure worker’s compensation.
“I’m doing DJ work on the side and I’m getting back into doing that again, so it’s keeping money coming in,” Mr. Clay said. “Eventually, they are going to rebuild the house, but we have to find someplace to live in the meantime, and we just hope we have enough funds to keep us going until then.”
The event will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. on Monday, January 20, and will include live music, a 50/50 raffle along with other prizes and karaoke hosted by Mr. Clay, who will also DJ the event. A $30 donation, which will cover the cost of food, will be collected at the door.
Mr. Bennett also is encouraging those who cannot attend the event to donate at www.sickmanfan.com.