Rock For Wayne, a fundraising concert, will help students at Wayne Community College who cannot pay for their education for various reasons.
The concert will be held July 26 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the college. Food trucks will be set up in the parking lot at 6 p.m.
The benefit was the brainchild of instructor Chris McCallister, who is the founder of Second Helping: The American Lynyrd Skynyrd Show, and it has been in the making since March.
“Second Helping does a few benefits a year,” McCallister said. “We approached Wayne Community College about doing a concert.
“I can’t tell you how many students I’ve had and dealt with who had to leave college because of the money and couldn’t afford it. What’s worse is when you hear their stories.”
The Foundation of Wayne Community College helps in some of those situations when it can. So all proceeds from the concert will go to the Foundation to help students.
The event will feature three local bands, including Second Helping, whose members have played with the Lynyrd Skynyrd band.
“Second Helping started back in 1987,” McCallister said. “Prior to that, I was a psychology student in Florida and we were doing a study on PTSD. Not long after the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash Oct. 20, 1977, I called a couple of the guys in the band who had been on the plane. Being a music fan and a Floridian, we (musicians) ran with each other. “
McCallister called the five band members who had survived the crash to ask them how it felt to survive a plane crash for his psychology project. That was in 1982.
Through the project, McCallister became, and remained, close friends with the band members.
“In 1987, I was contacted by Ed King, Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist, saying Lynyrd Skynyrd was thinking about getting back together for a 10-year reunion tour,” he said. “I went to their rehearsals in Jacksonville, Fla.”
McCallister said the band members hadn’t played together since the plane crash 10 years before.
“But they were off-the-chart good,” he said. “They were going to do only a few concerts, then quit. I told them they literally put Southern rock on the map and when they had the plane crash, they killed it. I said somebody needed to do a tribute to them, and they laughed at me. At that time, there was no such thing as a tribute band, except for Beatlemania.”
McCallister and some of his musician friends started doing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music back in Tampa, where he lived, and noticed that people came out to hear the music. They formed Next Exit, which lasted about a year.
He formed another band, Second Helping: The Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, got a manager and an agent and began playing in 1989 at packed concert venues.
“In between all this, the Lynyrd Skynyrd guys, Ed King, guitarist, Leon Wilkeson, bass, and Billy Powell, pianist, worked closely with us,” McCallister said.
And they didn’t go easy on Second Helping’s musicians.
“Ed called us one time before a show and said, ‘Turn your guitars up and your amps down and play my stuff right,’” Second Helping’s lead singer Jon Riggs said.
McCallister said not only did Lynyrd Skynyrd’s band members support Second Helping, but they played with the group several times.
“They are like family to us,” Riggs said.
Second Helping has toured all over the United States, Canada and Mexico, and has appeared on “Entertainment Tonight” and MTV.
The group has grown in popularity over the past couple years, due in part to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“Lynyrd Skynyrd is doing a farewell tour right now in Europe,” McCallister said. “During an interview in Atlanta about a year ago, the DJ asked Lynyrd Skynyrd since they were retiring, what could people do to hear their music. Johnny Van Zant (Ronnie’s younger brother) recommended going to see Second Helping. Our phone rang off the hook, and we have been nonstop since. Those guys are still helping us out.”
Last year, the band changed its name to Second Helping: The American Lynyrd Skynyrd Show to get out of the genre of tribute bands. It’s based out of Kinston.
“We want it to be about the music and what it meant to people and still does,” Riggs said. “It brings up emotions, memories and nostalgia for people and introduces it to young people. I feel like a steward of the music.”
During the fundraising concert, Second Helping will be filming a national electronic press kit video so the audience will be in the video.
And a surviving member of the Lynyrd Skynyrd crew, Gene Odom, who was a bodyguard, will be at the concert to meet with those attending.
The two other local bands playing the concert will be the Donald Thompson Band with hardcore blues and 1950s tunes and the Adam Hill Band with 1970s rock music.
Tickets are $30 per person in advance by going to waynecc.edu/rockforwayne and $40 at the door.