Blues Revue helps benefit Toys for Tots

Friday, October 31, 2003


Special to the Journal-World

Blues guitarist Scott Ellison is one of many national and local artists performing at the 10th Annual Blues Revue/Toys for Tots benefit Saturday at Liberty Hall.

Imagine being able to simultaneously enjoy live music from six bands, drink a beer and aid Douglas County children who are less fortunate.

It may sound like an impossibility, but the 10th annual Blues Revue has made it a reality.

Organized a decade ago by Rick and Sarah Reding, the event raises funds for Toys for Tots in the Douglas County area.

"No child should have the blues at Christmas -- that's our motto," says Sarah Reding.

The couple, along with promoter Merle Zuel, have arranged for six bands to perform at the benefit at Liberty Hall, 642 Mass. After minimal production and artist fees, the proceeds go directly to the organization.

"The money goes to help less fortunate kids out there get what they want for Christmas," Zuel says. "Hopefully they will get something off of their list."

Zuel, who has been involved with the benefit the past four years, has taken a more active role.

"Each year I get a little bit more involved. This year I am the promoter. I did the line-up and the advertising," he says. "I book the bands over at Stu's (Midtown Tavern) and Rick and Sarah were always asking favors of bands, and sometimes it is easier to get them to do you a favor if you have been giving them work all year."

After this year's benefit, Zuel's role will no doubt get larger as Rick and Sarah Reding plan to retire.

"This is going to be our last year," Reding says. "Next year it is up to Merle."

"We just don't have the musician contacts we used to have. We are getting older and are looking forward to settling down and enjoying our grandchildren."

Past Event

10th Annual Blues Revue/Toys for Tots benefit

  • Saturday, November 1, 2003, 6 p.m.
  • Liberty Hall Cinema, 644 Massachussets Street, Lawrence
  • All ages / $12


For the benefit, Zuel has lined up six bands that include local acts Music Row and Hot Load, the Mezcal Brothers out of Lincoln, Neb., ZZ Top tribute band, Sharp Drezzed Men, Blue 88, out of Kansas City, and Scott Ellison from Tulsa, Okla. Zuel expects the bands to be a hit with the crowd.

"The bassist for the Mezcal brothers just works the bass. He spins it, rides it, gets on the floor with it, just a lot of showmanship. They are really fun, and their music is just a lot of really good rock 'n' roll," Zuel says.

Most of the acts have performed for the event before and are excited by the opportunity to return.

"Last year was the first year for the Mezcal Brothers, and they volunteered that night for this year's show," Reding says. "The bands enjoy the venue, and they like to be there. And everyone likes to do something good."

For Zuel and the Redings, the benefit is not only a way to aid needy children, it also lets them provide entertainment for the community.

"We have a very strong following of community support," Reding says. "People look forward to it and start asking us about it in midsummer. They are big fans of the music."

The Redings and Zuel have high hopes for the turnout at this year's show. The shows have raised between $2,000 and $4,000. The entire show is put together through volunteer efforts.

"Music is my hobby, so if it lets me give back to the community then that's great," Zuel says. "I am just glad we can have fun and raise money for a good cause."