By Emre K. Erku
Special to The Free Press
---- — The event that has raised more than $150,000 dollars in the past two years to benefit veterans and their families in the Mankato area returns Saturday to Riverfront Park.
The third annual Tune it Up for the Troops concert will be held in the Vetter Stone Amphitheater. On Monday, the Tee it Up for the Troops golf tournament will be held at the Mankato Golf Club.
For the concert, local and national acts volunteer their talents to pay tribute and acknowledge the sacrifices made by members of America's armed forces.
“First and foremost, they [veterans] appreciate the recognition,” said Gene Lancaster, organizer for Tee it up for the Troops. “It’s about thanking and honoring veterans, and all proceeds go to families and veterans in Mankato, St. Peter, and New Ulm.”
To make the event possible, Lancaster utilized a limited number of sponsorships as fiscal resources to fund booking the acts. Though, many of the bands were more than willing to help out.
“(At first) it wasn’t a money maker,” said Lancaster. “There’s an effort to keep costs down, and when I asked the bands if they could perform for free it was an immediate ‘yes.’”
Performing this weekend is a collection of rock, country and blues bands from around the community and abroad, including: The Murphy Brothers Band, a guitar-rocking crew of Mankato musicians who’ve been jamming with each other, and in different bands, since the Vietnam War; Powerhouse, a 10-piece band that covers tunes from Elvis Presley to Blood, Sweat & Tears; Decadence, Inc., a group that specializes in arena rock; and Chris Brooks & The Silver City Boys, a band that blasts “danceable current and classic country radio hits.”
Headlining will be the Little River Band, a soothing, classical rock group formed in Melbourne during the 1970s. You may remember relaxing classics such as their 1978 single, “Reminiscing,” or their catchy jam “It’s a Long Way There.”
In effort to appease a wide range of military generations and music lovers, Lancaster deliberately booked bands to cover all corners.
“We’re blues-, country-, and classic rock-based,” said Steve Murphy, one of the band’s guitarists and vocalists. “And these days, there are so many different styles.”
This year’s event is also intended to be more family oriented. A “Family Fun Zone” with zip lines and climbing wall, as well as other activities sponsored by Capstone Publishing will be available to entertain young ones.
Following Saturday’s festivities comes the Tee it up for the Troops golf event Monday.
Murphy summarized the organizers' sense of gratitude toward the benefactors of the events:
“It is because of them we’re allowed to play,” he said.
If You Go What Tune it Up for the Troops When Gates open at noon on Saturday Where Riverfront Park Admission Free until 5 p.m.; $15 afterward at the door Music lineup 1 p.m. -- Powerhouse 3 p.m. -- The Murphy Brothers 4:30 p.m. -- Decadence, Inc. 7 p.m. -- Chris Brooks & The Silver City Boys 9 p.m. -- Little River Band More info www.teeitupforthetroopsmankato.org.