Family & friends still beat the drum for late local rocker

2014-03-06T00:00:00Z Family & friends still beat the drum for late local rockerTom Lounges / beatboss@aol.com nwitimes.com
March 06, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The third annual “Mike Ratley Memorial Rock & Roll Benefit Concert” named for longtime Highland resident and regional musician Mike Ratley happens at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1400 South Broad Street, Griffith, IN on Saturday (March 8) from 6 pm to midnight. All ages are welcome.

Mike Ratley played drums in a variety of Northwest Indiana club bands over the years. He was a member of The Alley Cats when he died at age 52 in November of 2011 of complications due to diabetes. Friends remember him as a devoted family man, an accomplished musician and avid fisherman.

“His death made us all realize how fleeting life can be and how much our friends enrich our lives on a daily basis,” explained his wife Rita Ratley in a written statement. “In an effort to keep Mike’s spirit alive, we decided to sponsor a fund raiser in his honor to raise money for diabetes related charities that has now become an annual event. As music was a lifelong passion of Mike’s, we knew the event would feature music provided by friends and acquaintances, giving us all a positive occasion to remember our fallen colleague and not wait until the ‘next funeral’ to meet again.”

A $10 per person door donation gains access to a full evening of live musical performances by Chad Clifford (of The Crawpuppies), The Guilty Party, and The Hotts.

Mike’s 18-year-old son, Luke Ratley who learned to play drums from his father will also perform with his modern rock band The Day Nine. “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.”

“Last year, we raised money for the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana “Camp Until a Cure” program,” explained Rita Ratley. “This year we will be donating the proceeds to HealthLinc of Lake and Porter Counties, an organization that provides a wide array of compassionate and quality healthcare and assistance for those in need. They also provide medication to individuals with diabetes. Our goal is to raise funds for testing strips which are not normally provided but are a necessity for diabetic patients. “

Along with the variety of entertainment, many raffles and food provided by “Valpo Vienna,” a cash bar will be provided by the Knights of Columbus. More info, call Donna (219) 775-7077 or visit www.facebook.com/mikeratley annualmemorialrockandrollconcert.

Celestin’s “A CHATTER OF FACT” Hits iTunes

Long time region singer/entertainer Robby Celestin (best known for his work in the groups TimePeace and Final Say!) is one of the most well-rounded and charismatic entertainers this columnist has encountered during my decades of covering the Chicagoland music and arts beat. Celestin, a native of East Chicago, has been focusing considerable time on his acting career in recent months, working with brother Paul Celestin, an independent filmmaker with J.I. Lange Productions on the full length action film, “Deadly Memories: Lost & Found.” A preview screening of the film (now in post-production) at the recent “NWI Comic Con 2014” got strong response.

Next up for Robby is the launching of a new Podcast project called “A Chatter of Fact” which launched online last weekend. The podcast can be viewed free on iTunes and via Celestin’s personal website www.robbyclestin.com.

“The city of Chicago is bursting with talented and interesting people. This podcast dives into the individual stories of the singers, actors, and many other creators that inhabit Chitown's thriving artistic community,” explained Celestin of the new project. “It is NOT an interview. It is a conversation. It is a table chat that shares the lives, thoughts, and travels of the local artist. If you are attempting to break into show business, maintain your status, or simply love hearing about the behind the scenes tales of entertainment, this podcast is for you. You'll be enlightened, amused, inspired, intrigued, or at the very least temporarily distracted.”

The first installment of “A Chatter of Fact” launched last weekend and Celestin said he plans to launch a new episode twice a month. “People get to know me as well as whatever artist or interesting person I have on in every episode. It's basically two people getting to know each other and shooting the breeze. However it will always center on some sort of journey or story from a full-time working artist,” he concluded.

Email Tom Lounges at beatboss@aol.com

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