Sound and fire: Concert raises funds for VFD

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Buddy Jewell sings and strums his guitar on the stage at Rock Creek Park during a benefit concert for the Caney Springs Volunteer Fire Department.

The audience was standing and cheering loudly at the close of Saturday night's concert in Rock Creek Park marking the start of this year's Battle of the Bands and an appearance by Buddy Jewell.

The show raised money for Caney Springs Volunteer Fire Department, which is forming near Chapel Hill. Volunteers have a fire truck now, brought all the way from Delaware. It's now stored in Fire Chief Paul Rigsby's shop. By next year they hope to have enough money to start building their fire hall on land next to the Breeze-In Market on State Route 99, donated by proprietor Mike Akin.

CSVFD personnel and family members sold food, and a variety of goods and services were donated for a silent auction.

Jewell enjoyed himself so much that this could be "the start of an annual thing," according to CSVFD's Board Chairman E. W. Hill who's also a county commissioner.

Estimating the audience at 300-400 people, Hill said, "We made some money," but he didn't specify how many $10 tickets were sold.

On the first chilly night of a long hot summer, Jewell kept the crowd entertained with a mixture of his own songs and some made famous by other artists. He got applause and cheers for performances of his biggest hits: "Help Pour Out the Rain," "Sweet Southern Comfort," and "Somebody Who Would Die For You," which he dedicated to everyone, including firefighters, who put their life on the line to serve others. This song was recently No. 1 on the Christian Country charts, the first No. 1 hit Jewell has had since his album, "Buddy Jewell," topped the country charts in 2003.

Jewell seems to care a great deal about other people, and is sponsoring a child in Africa through Compassion International. There was a booth next to the stage with T-shirts and CDs on sale, but Jewell said, "I don't care if you buy any of my stuff," and offered a free CD to anyone who signed up to sponsor a child.

He knows what it's like to be on the outside. Jewell had been a performer for 21 years, 10 of those in Nashville as a demo singer, before winning the first "Nashville Star" competition in 2003 and signing his first record deal. Even since then, things have not gone smoothly for Jewell. He joked about a song that will appear on his "upcoming album" and explained, "That means we don't have enough money to finish it." Some fans, however, are devoted to Jewell. He dedicated one song to a couple that has seen 100 of his shows.

The crowd was enthusiastic about "This Ain't Mexico" and "What This Country's Comin' To." Fans were on their feet for the final song, a rocking rendition of "Can't You See," a '70s hit for the Marshall Tucker Band.

Hill says there will be another CSVFD fundraiser in the near future, and specifically thanked "the sponsors, the people who donated to the silent auction, and the volunteers who helped out -- especially the ones from other fire departments."