One night about 10 years ago, a group of around 400 people gathered in a tent in the parking lot of the Arizona Steakhouse restaurant on Woodruff Road to watch four classic-rock stars play an intimate show.
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Danny Seraphine of Chicago, Tommy Thayer of KISS, and Rick Seratte of Foreigner pumped out stripped-down versions of their hits for a select group to raise money for Pendleton Place for Children and Families, an organization dedicated to helping abused children and their families.
The concert began when Mark Craig, Kevin Cox, Troy Baldree, and Mike Williams, the co-founders and directors of the nonprofit Arizona’s Children’s Charities organization, decided to expand upon their usual centerpiece fundraising event, an annual golf tournament at Thornblade. The men visited a similar tournament hosted by golfer John Daly where Blades, Seraphine, Thayer, and Seratte were performing, and on the spur of the moment asked them to play in Greenville to raise money for Pendleton Place. The quartet agreed, and the concert was a great success.
Ten years down the line, Arizona Steakhouse isn’t around anymore but Arizona’s Children’s Charities is going strong, and — aided by title sponsor ScanSource coming aboard in 2015 — they’ve long since moved the concert to a bigger venue, the Greenville Jet Center at the Greenville Downtown Airport.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, the day before the golf tournament, more than 1,000 people will gather to see an all-star band featuring Seraphine, Jeff Adams of Starship, former Billy Joel drummer Liberty DeVitto, 38 Special’s Jeff Carlisi, Kool & the Gang’s Al Paris, Jim Peterik of Survivor, and more. The band will perform several hits from each of their former groups while the crowd enjoys a catered dinner and an open bar. There will also be a silent auction where the musicians’ art and memorabilia will be for sale, some of it signed onstage during the performance.
This year’s proceeds will be split between Pendleton Place and the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at the Children’s Hospital.
Williams says the concert, now called Rock’n on the Runway, has brought a whole new level of excitement to the charity’s fundraising endeavors.
“We wanted to distinguish our event from any other one like it in Greenville,” he says. “That’s what’s allowed us to grow the donation side of it, is the concert. The golf tournament is still popular; there’s a waiting list for it every year. But the concert has become the primary focus. The set list is two to four songs from everybody’s band. There will be dual drummers, and it’s quite an experience.”
Troy Baldree says that it’s not just a growing audience that has helped make the event special; the musicians have come to look forward to Rock’n on the Runway every year, too.
“We got them very involved with the children at Pendleton Place from the beginning,” he says. “We wanted to make sure they knew what the cause was and know who they’re raising money for. They’ve gotten very involved in our cause, we’ve become friends with them, and they’ve become friends with each other. Now they put it on their calendar every year.”
Jeff Carlisi has perhaps become the musician most involved in the concert; not only has he played just about every year, he’s become the musical director of the event.
“By the time we got into the fourth year of doing it, it [evolved] into a full rock ’n’ roll show with more and more people participating, which is when I kind of evolved into that role of music director,” Carlisi says. “It’s great because I can reach out to my friends who have played there before, bring different personalities into it, and for me, it’s such an enjoyable experience being involved with this charity.”
Carlisi says that even with an audience of more than 1,000 people, the show still has an intimacy that rock fans just can’t get at an arena or stadium show.
“It’s become a larger beast, but the organizers still want to keep it a special event,” he says. “Now we’re in this hangar with full concert staging and production just like you would see at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. It could get bigger, who knows, but right now it’s great because we have a chance to be up close and personal with the audience.”
If you go
- What: ScanSource presents Rock’n on the Runway
- When: 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14
- Where: Greenville Jet Center, 1 Aviation Lane, Greenville
- Tickets: $125
- Info: http://www.arizona-open.org/