By Kevin Brady
Riverview will be rocking for a good cause May 3 when the South Shore Music Festival takes to the stage to benefit a wounded area veteran.
The concert at the International Independent Showmen’s club features country music singer Jason Michael Carroll, Tampa’s own Soul Circus Cowboys, and Gwen Sebastian, a breakout star from “The Voice.” Local talent will also take the stage.
The festival is the brainchild of South Shore businessmen Mike Self of S&S Tacos/Pizza & Stuff; James Pulkowski, CPA; and Eros Dahl of Riverview Mortgage. All three wanted to showcase musical talent while providing a benefit concert for a local cause.
Self first came up with the idea of a country music festival in 2010. The event showcasing local musical talent was part of his successful campaign for honorary mayor of Riverview that year.
“So when Eros approached me late last year and asked me if we would be interested in doing another music festival for disabled veterans in our area, it seemed like a great idea,” Self said.
While the 2010 festival, with seven local acts, drew 200 attendees, organizers are hoping the combination of nationally known artists and local acts will draw up to 1,000 fans this year, translating, perhaps, into $10,000 for an injured local veteran.
Ticket prices start at $15 for general admission, $10 for retired military personnel; $35 tickets will include an opportunity to meet with the performers. Active military personnel will be admitted free.
Tickets for the event are available online at the festival website, www.southshoremusicfestival.com.
“Anyone looking for a good day out while helping a great cause is going to get a good day of entertainment,” Self said.
Going beyond a simple check presentation at the festival, organizers will assist at least one injured local veteran and his or her family by helping remodel their home to increase its accessibility. Depending on the amount raised, more than one veteran may benefit from the concert.
A former Marine, Dahl knows there are “many charities out there that need help, but this one is especially near and dear to my heart. These are the men and women who fight for our freedom.”
Anyone from the area can nominate a disabled veteran for the award. A select committee, including members of the Riverview Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, will review all applications and determine the recipient, who will be announced on the day of the festival.
Several local companies have already indicated they would be willing to donate their time to help with the construction portion of the project.
“We are looking forward to a great turnout, and, depending on the amount of money raised prior to the event, that will determine the number of veterans and family members we would be able to assist,” said Self, a Ruskin native and graduate of East Bay High School.
Organizers have already raised more than $3,000 for the festival by fundraising online, selling sponsorships and holding local events. Sponsorship packages start at $250.
“The support we have received locally has been absolutely amazing,” said Dahl, the charity coordinator for the festival. “This event is going to be something spectacular, for sure.”
Among local sponsors for the event are Hound Dogg Entertainment, Riverview Mortgage, MACE Multimedia, Sam’s Club and Buffalo Wild Wings.
“It doesn’t always have to be the big sponsors that help out,” Self said. “The small sponsors are just as important as the big ones. A lot of people think when they see these big events they can’t afford to be involved, but that is not necessarily true.”
To buy tickets, volunteer, become a sponsor or get more information on the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.southshoremusicfestival.com or call 813-690-2201 or 813-419-7763.
Organizers would like to see the festival become a fixture on the South Shore entertainment calendar.
“Our goal is to bring national artists into our hometown and keep that money in our hometown and help our military and veterans,” Self said. “This year will just build on that, and we will go from there.”