Local musicians band together for benefit concert Saturday

·5 min read

Jul. 31—For a long time, people in Cass County have known Steve Michaels not just as a musician, but as someone who never said no when his help was needed.

The community is stepping up to repay his generosity at the benefit S.T.E.V.E!: A Concert for Steve Michaels, starting 1 p.m. Saturday at the State Theatre.

On Father's Day weekend, Michaels had a stroke that has temporarily left him unable to play while he goes through therapy. To help with his expenses, 10 musical acts will play for 10 hours for the admission price of $10 as Singers Transmitting Epic Vibes of Encouragement.

"It was just a no-brainer to help and give back to him," said Grace Scott, leader of the Grace Scott Band.

Kevin Burkett, the CEO and president of the State Theater Preservation Society — who will perform at 6 p.m. with Tracy Boucher — said when he first put the word out to local musicians about a benefit concert in a group text, his phone went off like a slot machine.

"Everybody was, 'we're in,'" he said.

Burkett stressed that this is not a sad occasion, but an assist with bills and therapy because music was Michaels' main income.

"The guy had a setback," he said. "He's working his tail off to get back together."

All of the money for the tickets will go to Michaels.

Besides having the music, the State will have the concession stand and bar open for all 10 hours.

During the afternoon, U-Know Pizza will sell food in the lobby with proceeds going to Michaels, and Old Style Inn will be there in the evenings doing the same.

Burkett said that because of the length and some people wanting to see certain bands, there'll be a wrist band so people can leave and return.

The idea of helping Michaels started with Lisa Terry and Terry Doran, but they realized most venues weren't big enough and approached Burkett.

"It's not so much a charity event as a fundraiser," Doran said.

Originally, there was talk about whether there'd be one or multiple shows in different venues for Michaels, said Burkett.

They decided a single show would be better for logistics, but that means most of the performers will be solos or duets and acoustic, doing a 45-minute set and having 10 minutes between each act to set up.

Terry and Doran wanted to do something for Michaels because of what he's meant to everyone.

Terry said that when the Cass County Arts Alliance needed filler between acts for their fundraisers, "Steve would come for free and play between [acts] and unplugged."

Doran had similar experiences.

"When I was running for office, he'd be there for free whenever I needed," Doran said.

Michaels has been involved in not just the local music scene but all over the Midwest for about 30 years, Burkett said.

"His band River Run was one of the better bands in the area," Doran said.

The band went south to Nashville with Michaels' son, Jesse Michaels, and River Run will close the show Saturday night and be the only full band on the docket.

Michaels also helped a lot at the Summer Sundown Music Series when it began almost two decades ago

Doran said that whenever a group was down a musician, Michaels would fill in.

Someone would call with "I've got a guy who dropped out — can you show up," Doran said. "He'd say, 'give me an hour.'"

Scott, who'll play her set at 2 p.m., said, "I have no doubt Steve would do that."

And it takes a certain kind of talent to be able to fill in like that, she added.

He was very active, even during the quarantine, livestreaming performances from his back porch, and helped others, she said.

As things began to open up slowly last year, her band and Michaels did a livestream show from the State Theater

"It's really special to be a part of the music community in Cass County, and Steve is an integral part of the community," Scott said. "He's been at it a lot longer than I have, but I appreciate his guidance, for sure."

Mike Almon, who'll perform with harmonica accompaniment by Mike Metzgher at 3 p.m., said that the musicians coming together is part of the sense of community in the music scene.

"Most musicians have a camaraderie," Almon said. "We stick together and help each other."

Locally, musicians share equipment when something goes out, and they promote each other's shows during their own or share leads for places to play.

And Michaels helped everyone.

Burkett said the musicians are part of network where people come together to help, which started with The Record Farm and has led to things like Bonus Pints and the State, which wouldn't be around if not for that network.

Brandt Carmichael, the first act of the day, said although he's younger than Michaels, he remembers him being a staple in the community.

"He was always the guy who was always around, playing various venues around town," Carmichael said. He's involved because "music is what I do; it's my way of giving back to the community."

And the concert is a way of letting Michaels know they're there for him, as well as helping him with expenses.

"This is our way of giving back," he said.

For those who'd like to help Michaels but can't attend today's music lineup, there are other ways.

At least 24 businesses in Logansport have a jar for people to put donations in, and the planners have established an account at Security Federal Savings Bank in Logansport called "10 10 10" where people can donate.

There's also a Go Fund Me page at www.gofundme.com/f/steve-michaels-stroke-selfemployed-musician.

That page has updates on Michaels' progress, including regaining strength in his left arm.

"His mind is totally focused on getting well," Terry said.

Almon said the page was originally set up to raise $5,000, and it reached that goal so quickly, it's now set up to raise $10,000.

Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at james.wolf@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5117

Twitter @JamesDWolfJr

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