Ten regional and national bands are convening at UW-Eau Claire Friday for a cause close to everyone’s hearts: Fighting cancer.
Abby Maliszewski, community events organizer for Chippewa Valley Music Festivals (Rock Fest, Country Fest), said her organization started Night for the Fight last year in order to raise funds to go toward people in Wisconsin.
“It’s something that touches everyone, and we can also associate that idea with music,” Maliszewski said. “Music has a way of resonating within everyone. This is a way people can get together for a good time and raise money for something that is so prominent.”
Doors will open for this year’s Night for the Fight at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Ojibwe Ballroom of UW-Eau Claire’s Davies Student Center. While last year’s event was a battle of the bands, this year she said it is more about highlighting the bands and the cause.
Tickets are $13, and Maliszewski said 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward the Gilbert Brown Foundation, which directly helps people in Wisconsin fight their battle against cancer.
Maliszewski said they chose to partner with the foundation because Gilbert Brown, a former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman, has a reputation for making sure money raised in Wisconsin stays here.
“We always try to make sure money that is donated goes directly to people and we know it is getting used appropriately,” she said. “That is one of the reasons we stand with Gilbert Brown on this.”
Brown, former running back Ahman Green and corner back Craig Newsome will attend Night for the Fight.
For Maliszewski and, she assumes, many others, the event is personal. She is familiar with the feeling of losing a loved one to cancer, and said this is one way she feels she is doing something to change that.
“I have a hard time putting this into words because it’s more of a feeling to me,” she said. “I’ve lost a few members of my family, including my mom, to breast cancer, and it ignites a fire in you.”
Dawn Marie Metzger, a country-rock singer currently based in Elk Mound, said being a part of Night for the Fight was a “no-brainer” for her because cancer has touched her life in different ways.
When choosing her songs for the event, Metzger said she is making sure to use songs filled with “heart and soul” that reflect the mood of the evening.
“It’s a small time slot, so the selection needs to be meaningful,” she said. “It’s a pretty focused atmosphere and crowd, so I’m making sure I get the right feel and right tunes out there for people to connect with.”
She expects she’ll perform songs off her debut EP, which she released in September after recording at Drum Farm Studio in Menomonie. Unlike many of her shows that include a full band, she will be performing only with her guitarist, which she thinks will add to the intimate feel.
Eric Tracey, vocalist for Minneapolis-based band Smiling Politely, said he and his band members were happy to attend the event after being asked by Chippewa Valley Music Festivals staff.
“If we get to do what we do and have that help out, that’s that much better,” Tracey said. “All the research money definitely is an awesome thing, so for that reason I hope a ton of tickets get sold and we can put all kinds of money toward that.”
Smiling Politely is a metal-rock band, and Tracey said the members are currently working on their fourth studio album, though they haven’t set a release date because they don’t want to rush the process.
He expects they will play the band’s new single, “Through Your Fire,” and several other songs during the show. But his favorite part about events like this isn’t so much playing as it is getting to interact with artists they haven’t met and the crowds that are typically different from a Smiling Politely show.
“A lot of times there are people that show up because of that charity, not necessarily the bands,” Tracey said. “It’s cool to talk to them and hear their stories. There are always good things that come out of shows, whether you’re playing to 10,000 people or the bar staff and two others — if you can reach one person in the crowd, there’s a reason to be doing it.”
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