Chili's St. Jude Benefit Concert moving downtown

·3 min read

Sep. 22—Chili's Grill & Bar St. Jude Children's Hospital Benefit Concert has outgrown Chili's — it's moving to downtown McAlester.

This year's annual benefit, featuring some of the best bands in the area, is set to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, and continue into the night at the Ice House parking lot, at the corner of Fifth Street and Choctaw Avenue.

"We can hold a bigger crowd and get more of the community involved," Chili's Assistant Manager Abby Pierson said of the move downtown. "We're hoping for a good attendance."

Moving the benefit downtown also helps continue the series of outdoor musical performances along Choctaw Avenue that began with the Dancing Rabbit concert series earlier this year.

Chili's has hosted the annual fundraiser for nine years, Pierson said. Last year Chili's planned a scaled-back fundraiser due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is ready to move forward this year to a full-scale event.

"All donations go to St. Jude," said Pierson.

Local musician Robby VanVekoven helped with booking the performers for the event. He serves as emcee and performs as well.

Ross Chronister, who also heads his own band, Rosco and the Heads, is joining with lead guitarist Aaron Lalli and drummer Michael Roberson to perform as the blues-rock group Three Mighties at the benefit.

Chronister said they are glad to help.

"St Jude is near and dear to our heart," he said. "This is for the kids. That's what this whole world is about."

Most performers are scheduled for 45-minute sets, with 15 minutes between acts so the next artists on the schedule can set up their equipment.

Artists booked to perform in the Ice House parking lot Saturday are:

—Will Huckabee / Joe Disilvestro — An acoustic song swap from 1-to-1:45 p.m.

—Captain Ledge Band — 2-to-2:45 p.m.

—Lonnie Lay — 3-to-3:45 p.m.

—Three Mighties — 4-to-4:45 p.m.

—Juni Moon's Gods of Rock Guitar Tribute — 5-to-5:45 p.m.

—Blue Zebra — 6-to-6:45 p.m.

—Chris Morris with Blue Zebra — 7-to-7:45 p.m.

—Robby V & The Smokin' Section — 8 p.m.-to-???

Donations can be made several ways.

"We take cash donations," Pierson said. "People sponsor stages."

Chili's is also partnering with Captain John's Seafood & Cajun Grill, 1216 S. George Nigh Expressway, where "donation umbrellas" are set up in advance of the event, she said. The McAlester Regional Health Care Foundation is also helping with the benefit, she said.

Saturday's benefit concert is not the only fundraiser Chili's conducts. Chili's also hosted a golf tournament on Sept. 11, with the proceeds benefitting St. Jude as well.

Pierson and others involved with the event hope the move downtown will translate into more donations for St. Jude.

"We'd love for everybody to come out and see us," said Pierson.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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