Musician Louie McNeal recalls how it hit him when fellow singer/songwriter Tim Holmes shared the news about youth leader and community advocate Perry Stevens surviving a massive stroke on a recent Christmas morning.
“He’s just always been a great guy,” said McNeal, organizer of this weekend’s Perrypalooza benefit concert at Fairview High School. “It just hit me like a hammer.”
McNeal said he knew Stevens as a youth leader and organizer of Thanksgiving Day touch football games, as well as someone who went out of his way to help local kids stay out of trouble.
“He would always have 20 or 30 down there every Thanksgiving for what he called the Turkey Bowl,” McNeal said, adding Stevens would go to lengths to make sure kids did not have a chance to get bored and get into mischief.
When he heard Stevens and his family needed help, McNeal said he immediately turned to musicians in the Westwood community.
“Westwood is just saturated with musicians. It is a very music-centric neighborhood,” McNeal said, explaining the Westwood crowd seemed more than happy to come together for Stevens. Jeff Preston, one of the founding members of veteran local band CARRIER, was especially instrumental in setting up Saturday’s Perrypalooza benefit, McNeal said, explaining Preston made arrangements to use Fairview High School’s gym, and is personally providing the PA system for the show.
When the schedule was set, McNeal said he was pleased to realize the event will offer nine hours of live music. The benefit show will include performances by Bobby Blanton, Shannon Spears, Rob McNurlin, Tim Holmes, Cole Potter & The Renegades, Southern Thunder, Aaron Miller Band, Knocking Spirits, CARRIER, and Fitzpatrick-McNeal. Emily Briggs is getting a group of her friends together to offer face painting, and Russell High School art teacher Jeremy Grizzle is donating art for the day’s auction.
McNeal said Saturday’s benefit concert, which will start at 11 a.m., is the latest event in the One Kind Act movement being led by his wife, Carter County teacher, Lisa McNeal. One Kind Act has previously sponsored events including a free rummage sale and culvert cleaning.
“When they asked me what I could do I said there’s only one thing I’m any good at,” McNeal said, explaining he has played for countless benefits, but never before organized one.
Stevens’ supporters originally hoped to raise enough money to buy a specially-equipped van to meet his transportation needs, McNeal said, although the original goal has already been met and exceeded.
“They got the van for him, but we all know he is going to continue to have a lot of expenses. This is just to help with that,” McNeal said, noting there is a $5 admission fee and donations for the Stevens family will also be accepted.
For more information about Saturday’s Perrypalooza benefit concert, call (606) 694-ROCK.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com.