Benefit concert rocks KWCR charity event

Photo By: Brandi A. Cimmino
Members of Off the Wall Comedy perform at Hope for the Holidays Saturday night.

DJs from the Weber State University radio station, KWCR, sat outside Ogden grocery stores collecting food and money donations on Saturday and Sunday to contribute to the Ogden Rescue Mission. KWCR also hosted a free concert at the Ziegfeld Theater on Saturday night.

The Hope for the Holidays food drive and benefit concert featured performances by The Old World, Dono, Off the Wall Comedy, Caleb Cross, Adonis Jordan, the Jail City Rockers and other local acts. This is the third year KWCR has hosted the Hope for the Holidays food drive.

“I think it’s a really good way for us to use what we have to do something good,” said WSU junior Austin Hatch, program director at KWCR. “We have a lot of really cool technology being broadcast to everybody, and I think it’s a really good way for us to use what we have to do some good in the community.”

Some students volunteered to perform at the benefit concert.

“There are a lot of student bands that actually came to us,” Hatch said. “They actually came back in there and said, ‘Hey, I want to play this, I saw you had a flier’.”

This time, KWCR expanded on last year’s event.

“We raised — I think it was almost $1,000 last year, and so this year, we are doing it twice as long as last year,” Hatch said. “Last year, it was only a Saturday thing, so we have a goal to at least beat last year. We think it’s really possible now, because we have two days now.”

Andrew Bonilla is the guitarist and singer/songwriter for Jail City Rockers, a classic punk rock band that performed at the benefit concert on Saturday.

“It was for a good cause,” Bonilla said. “Me and my brother have been homeless, starving, living in the dark in a dirty hotel room . . . Any little donation you can get is life-saving.”

Bonilla said the band tries to keep its music uplifting.

“We have a positive message, we don’t swear,” he said. “Not that we’re saints or anything, but it’s just all positive thinking. That’s what makes the world better.”

Jared Christensen, the general manager at KWCR, said the fundraiser has really grown from its roots.

“It was originally just DJs hanging out in front of grocery stores asking people for donations,” he said. “The free concert series was a separate thing that just started last year. We just wanted to try to put some concerts on. We try to make them free, just to show off the talent that we have here in Utah. We’ve done a good job, I think. We’ve gotten some good people and great bands to show up.”

Christensen said the station tries to get a good mix of both well-known and lesser-known bands, to draw a crowd and help get new bands heard at the same time.

“I just want them to be able to share crowds with each other and help them rub elbows with each other, and help the bands get as much exposure as possible,” Christensen said, “because that basically is the whole point of this, to show off Utah’s very talented musical scene.”

According to Christensen, KWCR tries to put on shows every few months to keep people interested and involved in the local music scene. He said the radio station tries to give exposure to local musicians.

“If they give us their music, we’ll play them as much as we can. We play local music in a regular rotation of songs.”

KWCR has a specialty show for local music called the Local Lounge that is played on Saturdays between 2-4 p.m. The radio show features live acoustic sets, and only local music is played.

According to Christensen, community involvement was key to making all of this happen. The benefit concert and food drive was sponsored by organizations within the Ogden community, along with WSU’s The Signpost and Studio 76.

“We’ve been lucky enough to get involved with Grounds for Coffee; they are one of our major sponsors this year,” he said. “They’ve kind of sponsored this whole concert series for the year.”