Concert in Bloomington benefits tornado victims

December 4, 2013 (BLOOMINGTON, Ill.)

Styx rehearsed the song "Blue Collar Man" before the benefit. The band was also formed in the Chicago area. They used to play in small clubs around central Illinois. And with that in mind, it was never a question that they would try to do something to help victims of last month's tornado.

Styx frequently donates a portion of the proceeds from their shows to help charities through their program Rock to the Rescue. For Wednesday's show, they are working with other bands formed in the area, including REO Speedwagon, Survivor, Richard Marx and the band Head East.

About 7,500 people came to U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington for the concert, and to try to help out those in need.

For those who have lost so much it is a chance to escape for a few hours and have some fun. For everyone else, it's a chance to enjoy music from legendary rock bands while at the same time helping tornado victims. That's why the bands Styx and REO Speedwagon put this show together.

"It's about raising money, but I always say, it's about raising people's spirits and letting the people down here know that they're not forgotten," said Kevin Cronin, REO Speedwagon.

"We're doing what we always do, we get up on stage and we're playing our music. We didn't have to lift any of the heavy gear, we just had to play for our fans again," said Tommy Shaw, Styx.

The bands all have Illinois roots, including opening act Head East.

Organizers expect to raise more than $300,000 Wednesday night. With the all-star lineup, tickets quickly sold out. Nearly everything is donated, including the stage. The bands are paying their own expenses.

"We've had such an outpouring of support, it's just been amazing. We just thank everyone, as a resident, I really do thank everyone for helping us," said Kirsten Bender, Washington resident.

And while the bands have huge followings in the area, much of the music is best known by parents, but the kids are still here.

Many of the performers also had the chance to tour the areas hardest hit by the tornado November 17. The musicians saw up close who and what they are raising money for. Many of those affected by the tornado will be seated in a special section for the show. Washington High School's football team was expected to make an appearance on stage as well. Proceeds from merchandise is also going to help tornado victims. Larry the Cable Guy served as the emcee.

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