Rock, rhythm and blues enthusiasts will want to make sure they make it to the Liederkranz this weekend.
On Saturday, February 1, the 15th Annual Mid-Ohio Special Wish Fest will be held once again at the Liederkranz, 1212 Silver Ln., in Mansfield. Good music is on deck for an even better cause.
For those in the know, Frank Medley of Mansfield has been supporting the growth and appreciation of the local music scene for the last 32 years. Having hosted a number of what he calls “jam” nights at various locations throughout Richland and surrounding counties over the years, his name has come to be known to most musicians in the area. In fact one could argue that his name is synonymous with those looking for encouragement to learn to play or to sing or to network with more seasoned musicians.
Medley says it was through a very personal experience that he came to organize the annual music fest that aides the mission of the Special Wish Foundation, Inc., a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children under the age of 21 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or disorder.
For a number of years, Medley says he had been organizing a well-known blues fest, but it was during the late 1990’s that he was asked to participate in raising money for the Special Wish Foundation locally.
“I’ve been doing the blues fest for jeez probably a good 22, 23 years. When my oldest daughter, Michelle, was in the 10th grade, she was in band with a girl named Brittany Ling. Me and Brian Ling (her father) went to school together. There was nothing sadder. I went to the funeral and there is 2-300 kids lined up to watch this beautiful little girl in a casket. It breaks your heart,” recalled Medley. He added that Brittany lost her battle with cancer, and it was the realization that cancer had taken someone so young that made such a strong impact on him.
The following year after Ling’s death, he and his band were asked to come and play to support Special Wish. Once he did, Medley explained that he was impressed with the camaraderie amongst the organizers at the time and the bands involved all playing together—for free—for a good cause.
“The last 15 years all the bands donate their time; no one gets paid. We used to pay the sound guy, but now he gives all his money back after his expenses. The whole community pulls together. We have 21 awesome bands; there is no bad band,” says Medley encouraging people to come out this weekend.
Every year he and the organizers of the event dedicate the fest to Ling and the memory of all the special wish kids past and present.
“She had been fighting cancer since she was two. She beat it. She was in remission for a few years. It came back and she fought it, but it knocked her over the the head,” explained Medley of Brittany adding that Brian Ling has since lost his youngest daughter to cancer a year an a half ago.
Medley added that this event is something special for all involved, “To watch all these bands get together… for the bands they are playing in front of their largest crowd all year. This is the largest event each year in five counties. Mark Scheween brings a $10,000 light show for nothing.”
Supporting Medley is the Galion Chapter of A Special Wish. A member of the national organization, the area chapter has been organizing fund-raisers and granting wishes in the area for the last 25 years, according to Kieth Mason, a member of the Chapter. The chapter, a sponsor of the event, serves Crawford, Richland and Ashland counties, stepping in occasionally to also serve Morrow County in granting wishes.
“This is our biggest fund-raising event in Richland County,” explained Mason. He added, “This event is on a Saturday. Saturday is a big night for these bands and they are giving it up to spend it raising money for these kids.”
Mason says that Medley has been part of the success of this event for close to the last 20 years adding that all the work involved in making it happen is 100 percent volunteer. Mason added that the Fest can allow the Chapter to grant one big wish ranging from $3-10,000 depending on how well the Fest is attended.
Admission to the fest is a $10 donation while kids under 12 are free. Things kick-off at noon with Juvenile Mindset, followed by the Mark Schwenn Trio. At 1 p.m. TNT, with Fat Daddy’s Blues to follow. At 2 Calling Cain and a band called Cheep Sunglazzes. Alter Ego is slated to take the stage at 3 p.m. with Autumn Burning to follow. At 4, perfectly damaged will play and Whiskey Train to follow. At 5 p.m. S”Y Velt and Electric Circus. At 6 p.m. Departure and Red Ball Jets will play. At 7 p.m. Frank James Boyd Blues will play with Trust to follow. At 8 p.m. organizers will recognize this year’s special wish kids and hold a pie-in-r’ face auction. At 9 p.m. Medley’s Getaway Band will take the stage followed by the Blue Angles. At 10 p.m. S.O.B.O.S. will play with Street Fox to follow. At 11 p.m. King Darwin and Black Hole Gypsy will close the fest. A guitar drawing will be held at midnight with prizes named.
A 50/50 raffle will be held all day long and the first 100 people in the door get free gifts and choice of seating.
Among the sponsors supporting the event are the Clear Fork Ski Resort, American graphics, Rock the Cure four leukemia, Red ball jets band, Legacy Roofing Services of Arkon, the Stewart D Ryckman Family, Verizon Cellular Central of Shelby and Galion, Metronome Music, Kostas Night Club, the Lederkranz and Lederkranz soccer to name a few.
Medley has been offering Jam nights every Sunday for the last 32 years. Musicians interested in Jam nights can make their way to Belcher’s House of Rock Sunday and Thursday nights. The Den on Monday. Kostas on Tuesday’s Wednesdays Legend in Mt. Vernon
For more information or for word on how to donate to Special Wish, call (419) 544-9780.