Songs4Soldiers blasts ahead

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Pictured, fireworks fly over the stage at last year’s Songs4Soldiers concert in Columbia. 

For the last two years, the Songs4Soldiers benefit concert in Columbia has brought national acts to Monroe County. 

In 2017, rock legend Bret Michaels headlined the show, while country artists Diamond Rio and Granger Smith fulfilled that role in 2018. 

Both years were successful for the nonprofit, which raises money for combat veterans. 

So, founder and veteran Dustin Row of Columbia decided to get the best of both worlds for this year’s fundraiser. Rising country star Jordan Davis and ‘80s rock band 38 Special will perform Friday and Saturday night, respectively. 

“The next progression here was definitely ‘let’s do both,”’ Row said of the two genres. “We have never ever put a headliner on Saturday night, and, in my opinion, I think it will kill it.”

The Friday event starts at 6 p.m. Sept. 6. That night’s festivities are presented by 92.3 WIL-FM. 

The night begins with Waterloo’s own Alexandra Kay performing. She will be followed by Chris Shiflett, who is also a guitarist with Foo Fighters. 

Then comes Davis, whose last two singles – “Take it From Me” and “Singles You Up”  – have gone platinum.

The Sept. 7 rock show is presented by 94.7 KSHE-FM and begins at 1:30 p.m. 

Local cover bands Trixie Delight, That 80’s Band, Dazed n Confused STL, Kim Massie and Joe Dirt and The Dirty Boys will perform that day. 

Later in the day, Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts will perform. Nielsen is the son of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.

Finally, 38 Special will close out the show. The group’s catalogue includes such hits as “Hold on Loosely” and “Caught Up In You.” 

Row booked the acts himself this year, as he now works as an event producer with a company in St. Louis. 

“I feel like I got us good pricing,” Row said. “I think it was a little bit different kind of negotiation with their agents with the founder of the charity.” 

As the organization grows, Row predicted he will be able to get increasingly bigger stars. 

Row said he was helped in that effort this year from his experience as an event producer. That new job has helped with the concert in other ways, too.  

“It’s really helped me on the organizational side, and it’s also really helped me with larger sponsors, how to talk with these people and logistically,” he said. 

Row said he and his team have also learned from last year’s concert, about half of which was rained out. 

In a practical way, it forced the organization to purchase extreme weather insurance. 

Although it put a damper on the event, it also reenergized Songs4Soldiers. 

“It caused myself and my team to step up our games,” Row explained. “We’ve started introducing other sources of fundraising throughout the year because you hate to rely on Mother Nature for one weekend a year. It was a real bummer but I think it fired us up and, honestly, it felt good to get one rainout under our belt.” 

The rainout did not impact much else for this year’s show, as Row said it has already broken sponsorship records. 

There will also be more fun besides the music this year. STL Interactives is supplying six inflatables for children and a mechanical bull for adults. 

Another expansion comes in the VIP experience, which now includes free food from Syberg’s Restaurants, free drinks, close parking and front row seats. 

Those tickets cost $100 per night, and the 38 Special VIP tickets are almost sold out. A one-day ticket costs $20 – $5 more than last year – and weekend passes cost $35. 

Children under 12 and veterans get free admission. 

Tickets can be bought online at songs4soldiersstl.org or in person this Friday starting at 5 p.m. during a kick-off party at Tiny’s Pub in Columbia.

“This is a big time show with a small-town feel,” Row said. “Parking is accessible. Ticket prices are dirt-cheap. Sixteen ounce beers are $5. If you come once, you have my promise you’ll come again.”

Individuals can also volunteer to assist with the show by emailing dustin@songs4soldiersstl.org or marion@songs4soldiersstl.org. 

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