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GIFFORD — Craig Bertram said he and his band Southern Transfer, and members of Ryan Ideus & the Feudin Hillbillys came up with the idea about the same time.
They wanted to stage a concert to benefit victims of the Nov. 17 tornado that swept through Gifford.
That concert will become reality Saturday, Jan. 25, at Gordyville, just west of Gifford.
The event features 10 acts with music ranging from country and western to blues and rock. A strongman show will also be included.
“You don’t realize how bad these things are until it hits home,” Bertram said of the storm devastation. “I have lived and worked in this area for 25 years, and my wife, Wendy, grew up in Penfield, so we have many close friends and family from the Gifford area.”
Ideus grew up in Flatville and so naturally wanted to help as well.
Said Ideus: “Being born and raised in Flatville, Gifford was always the ‘big brother’ I got to visit and meet a wonderful bunch of people.
Upon my first visit to my cousin’s house four days after the storm, I knew immediately, getting together with others and organizing a benefit with music as the core was going to happen.”
Ironically, Southern Transfer had just played in Gifford two days before the tornado hit.
Bertram said the most difficult thing was to find a weekend when they could get all the acts together.
There will be two stages, sponsored by Trav’s Automotive and C.V. Lloyde. The event kicks off at 3 p.m., with the Feudin’ Hillbillys the final act starting at 10:30.
Organizing the concert are the Southern Transfer band, Ideus and representatives from Gifford State Bank, Gordyville, Rube’s Country Cooking and Rantoul Township High School.
The concert has already generated a great deal of interest. Bertram said a Gifford tornado relief concert Facebook page has drawn more than 4,500 likes.
“We probably won’t get that big of a crowd, but we’re expecting close to a thousand people to come through the door,” he said.
A kids zone will also be available from 2-6 p.m. with a bounce house and inflatable obstacle course.
Caricature artist Dan Wild will draw people’s portraits.
“This guy is really good,” Bertram said of Wild. “He said he can do about 18 an hour. We had him for a post prom event a couple years ago.”
A photo booth and face painting will also be available.
There will also be 50/50 drawings, concert shirts available (advance orders can be made on the Gifford tornado relief concert Facebook page) and raffle for an Indy custom guitar and Fender Squire amp donated by The Pawn Shop of Rantoul and LV Johnston of Rantoul, respectively.
All of the attractions will be present at no charge to the organizers.
“This is just one way we can help and give back to the community and give everyone a chance to relax and have a little fun,” Craig Bertram said.