Some of Northwest Indiana’s finest songwriters and most popular musical artists have enlisted to raise money to help those who have stood tall and served America with honor and integrity – our military veterans.
“The seed for this event was planted by Phil Miller,” explained Tom Collins, Sr., owner of Hobart’s County Line Orchard, which is producing the concert in the warm and inviting confines of its spacious and beautiful all wooden “big barn.” “Phil called me long distance very early one morning with the idea and I don’t think I even let him finish talking before saying I was in.
“It started when I took my first vacation since 1982 to visit my folks who live on a lake in North Carolina,” said Miller of Munster, a guitarist with the band Old Skool and a 40-year member of the regional music community. “I was up really early one morning, so I grabbed my acoustic guitar and went down to the end of the pier on the lake. We had just played a blues jam at the Orchard before I left and it was so much fun that the idea to do a similar all acoustic jam came into my head. My mom is the one who suggested we do it to benefit local veterans, so I called Tom (Collins) and told him the idea and he said, ‘Heck Yeah! Let’s do it.”
Four regional veterans’ groups will benefit from the proceeds of Saturday’s show – The Northwest Indiana Veterans Center #412 in Crown Point, The Disabled Veterans Local Chapter #17 in Hammond, the VFW of Hobart, and the Hobart American Legion. “We are also going to be making a donation to “Guitars For Troops,” a program that sends guitars over to our military folks,” said Collins. “The military is a ‘hurry up and wait’ life and having guitars sent to them helps pass the time and gives some of our troops a chance to hone their musical skills or learn to play,” said Collins, himself a student of guitar who will pop on stage to sit in with some of Saturday’s performing artists.
Collins and County Line Orchard are even donating some top brand guitars to help bring in a few extra dollars through drawings to win them at various points during the evening between band performances. Proceeds from the sale of food (including the Orchard’s regional famous donuts), along with beer and wine sales, will also help fill the coffers with added coins for the cause.
Collins said each of the groups will have a table and representatives on hand at the concert if anyone wants to learn more about them. “We are going to recognize each of the groups during the evening,” he said. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and things get started at 7 p.m. with a Presentation of Colors and the “Pledge of Allegiance” by Hobart High School JROTC students – Jim Madson, Mike Klich, Ehson Umrani, Ashton Goodpaster, Elizabeth Gaines, Kathleen Gaines, Bethany Regal -- under the direction of 1st Sgt. Leo Marshall. “It’s really nice to see the JROTC from our local high school coming and being a part of this night,” said Collins.
“The talent on stage that night is some of the finest Northwest Indiana has to offer,” continued Collins. “Every one of them is a headline act,” added Miller, who is coordinating the line-up and performance slots for the event. “We have two great solo artists – Mami Matsuda and Phil Hardesty -- starting the night off,” continued Collins. “They’ll play about 20 minutes each.”
Two of the groups on the bill – Old Skool and The Unstoppables -- will then join ranks and perform as one entity dubbed by Collins as “The Rotten Apple Orchestra.” The rest of the evening will be filled out by The Crawpuppies, New Element, Chris & Lou and The Highway Band, and Miller expects the event will wrap up with an all out jam set featuring members of all the groups. “These are all guys who just love to play any opportunity they have and when you combine that with a great cause like our area veterans, they’ll stay up there playing until we turn out the lights and lock the doors,” mused Collins.
When Miller started making calls, there was no hard sell needed, each musician contacted immediately signed up for duty to a chance to serve the area’s veterans groups in the best way they could, with their music. “These are people who stepped up when asked to serve our county,” said Chad Clifford of The Crawpuppies. “Of course, we are all going to be there to do what we can now to help them any way we can.”
One way they will help the veterans’ groups after Saturday’s concert is over and done, is with sales from a live CD recorded that night featuring original songs written by the artists on stage.
“John Horvath of Alan Audio will be engineering the live sound for the show that night and we’ll have a second board in an isolation room where Joey Rega of JRT Events will be recording everything that happens on stage,” explained Miller. “That recording will be edited and mixed into a CD featuring some of the original songs performed that night. This CD will showcase some of the great talent and great songwriters our area has, and proceeds from it will continue to help and benefit the local veterans. Those who come to the concert will be part of the live recording, so it will serve as a cool souvenir of the evening and the event. So it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
“We will take pre-orders for the live CD for $10 at the event,” added Collins. “It will be $15 if purchased later. The CD will be sold at County Line Orchard and likely a few other regional locations and it will also be made available as a download once it’s done.”
Some of the musicians performing that evening – Chris Sulcer of Chris & Lou, Greg Ashby of The Unstoppables and Chad Clifford of The Crawpuppies -- joined Tom Collins and Phil Miller last Tuesday on Valparaiso’s community radio station WVLP-LP 98.3 to talk about the concert on the “Livin’ It Up” program. A rebroadcast of Tuesday’s show will be aired on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. and can be streamed online at: www.wvlp.org.