On Saturday the memory and musical life of a local drummer – Mike Ratley -- now two years gone will be celebrated while kids who are now suffering with the ailment that contributed to Ratley’s untimely death will be helped.
“The 2nd annual Mike Ratley Memorial Rock ‘n’ Roll Benefit Concert” takes place at the Knights of Columbus Hall (1400 South Broad Street) in Griffith from 6 p.m. to Midnight and includes food, a silent auction, raffles and a plethora of regional music talent.The event is both a tribute to Ratley and a means for his friends and family to strike a blow against the diabetes that robbed them of him at the young age of 52.
“Last year’s event was a huge success.It raised money to help Mike’s wife Rita with medical and funeral expenses,” explained event organizer Bill Stone, a lifelong friend who played music for years with Mike Ratley.“This year, all proceeds will be given to the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana “Camp Until a Cure”program.
“The camp is located in Noblesville and is the only camp in Indiana designed specifically for the needs of kids with Type 1 diabetes,” explained Rita Ratley, Mike’s wife of 30 years. “This camping experience gives them a chance to have fun, be normal and educates them about how to live with diabetes.The ultimate goal of ‘Camp Until a Cure’ is to better physical and emotional long term health for each camper and our goal with Saturday’s concert is to help local kids who have diabetes get to the camp this summer.”
On the subject of kids, the Ratley’s 17-year-old son Luke will be opening up the entertainment with his new band, The Day Nine, which includes bassist Jake Ely and Devin Whitten on guitar and lead vocals. Luke Ratley learned to play drums from his father and is proud to be able to carry on the tradition.“I’m right handed, but dad was left handed and that’s the way I learned to play drums. “He also taught me to play ‘behind the beat’,” said Luke who proudly plays his father’s first drum kit.“It’s the one my grandparents bought him when he was about my age back in the 1970s.”
Besides performing a special set of Motown classics just for this show with The Day Nine, young Ratley will be keeping the beat during a set by his dad’s old band, The Alleykatz, now called The Alleykatz Reloaded with the addition of son Luke and Ratley’s childhood friend and former Eclipse bandmate, Jamie Chant.
Also slated to perform is a reformed version of the old Dyllyngyr band from Ratley’s hometown of Highland, featuring original members and former classmates, Zon Haralovich, Joe Grunstein and Bill Rak.
A special “All-Star Band” has also been assembled by Stone to feature various members of the aforementioned bands plus some added musical guests, including vocalist Mimi De St. Jean (of the band Jampagne), vocalist Julie Lueck (of Chicago’s Pink Freud), vocalist Brett Myers (of The Franklins Band), and bassists John Moravec (of The Naked Apes) and Darren“Detroit” Jackson.
For more information or to make a donation for “The 2nd Annual Mike Ratley Memorial Rock ‘n’ Roll Benefit Concert,” please call Donna at (219) 775-7077.
• At deadline time for this column came word that Alvin Lee, the great guitar slinger who wowed the audience at Woodstock with his band Ten Years After, had died at age 68 from complications during a “routine” surgical procedure. Among Lee’s biggest hits were“Goin’ Home” and “I’d Love To Change The World.”
• Sad to report a death on the local scene as well. Longtime Northwest Indiana musician Roger Hudak, age 57, passed away on Feb. 26. Well respected and well liked by his peers, Hudak played electric guitar and bass over the years in such regional bands as Next of Kin, Steel Waters, C.C. Waterback and Back Seat Rodeo. Roger was also a popular session player on local projects recorded in the 1990s at Merrillville’s Blue Star Studios. My condolences to Roger’s family and friends.