When people pass through the gates of the Coral Head Music Festival this weekend to hear some of the hottest classic rock hits, they’ll be supporting their neighbors at the same time.
Following widespread damage caused by Category 4 Hurricane Irma in September, event organizer Rich Anderson said the majority of proceeds from this year’s event at the Marathon Community Park would go to locals still rebuilding their homes five months post-storm.
The festival has grown from one full day of performances last year to two days this year. It features six bands playing Saturday with Great White and Slaughter headlining, and five bands on Sunday with Confederate Railroad being the last to take the stage at 6:30 p.m.
“The fans in Florida, in general, are just awesome,” Great White guitarist Mark Kendall told the Keynoter.
He said Saturday, Great White will play a combination of hit songs like “Once Bitten Twice Shy” and “Rock Me” along with some new songs off the band’s most recent album, “Full Circle,” released last year.
He said the band has performed in the Keys a few times in the past three decades and has also performed with Slaughter quite a bit in recent years since both bands have the same agent.
Saturday afternoon, Atlanta Rhythm Section takes the stage at 3 p.m. Singer Rodney Justo grew up in Tampa and has a special connection to the Keys: His father grew up in Key West.
The band will play songs off its most successful album, “Champagne Jam,” which went platinum after being released in 1978. It includes hits like “Imaginary Lover” and “I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight.”
“We’re very fortunate because those are classic rock hits. We also have regional hits like ‘Georgia Rhythm’ and ‘Angel,’ ” he said.
Justo added he’s looking forward to catching up with Rick Derringer, who takes the stage Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Derringer’s hits include “Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo” and “Hang On Sloopy,” which he performed with the McCoys before turning to blues rock in the 1970s.
“He’s a great guitarist and we go back a long time,” Justo said.
“There are a lot of great rock acts on the show,” said Confederate Railroad lead vocalist, guitarist and founder Danny Shirley. “We’ll play all of the hits we’ve had over the years.”
Two of those hits include “Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind” and “Queen of Memphis.” The band released a new album in 2016 called “Lucky to be Alive.”
“We just wing it, so you never know what we’re going to play,” Shirley said.
John Bartus & Storm Watch kicks off the festival at noon Saturday, followed by local band Fiddle Rock, then Atlanta Rhythm Section at 3 and Miami-based 1980s rock tribute band Lazy Bonez at 5 p.m. Slaughter goes on at 7, followed by Great White at 9.
Sunday, Homestead-based rock band Above The Skyline starts the second day of the festival at noon, followed by Joey Bravo at 1:30. He’s the former front man for Lazy Bonez. Mitch Perry and Jimi Fiano play with SUS4 at 3 p.m., followed by Derringer at 4:30 and Confederate Railroad at 6:30.
Proceeds from last year’s inaugural music festival went to a program called Project: Vet Relief, which supports service men and women. Being part of the American Legion Riders of Post 154 in Marathon, veteran support is something about which Anderson is very passionate, but plans switched gears after the hurricane and the money will now go into a fund called Rebuild The Keys.
“We’re taking applications in from people and we are going to be giving store credits at local lumber yards for building materials and tools, ranging from $500 to $5,000,” he said.
Applicants who qualify will have 60 days to use the store credit at places like Marathon Lumber and Overseas Lumber on Big Pine Key.
“We’ll make other arrangements as needed depending on where they live,” he said, adding money will not go to rebuilding homes used for vacation rentals. People can apply by going to www.coralheadmusicfest.com and clicking on the “FL Keys Relief Fund” tab. The application is at the bottom of the page.
“I don’t know how to explain it but we’ve had an unbelievable amount of support from our sponsors and the rest of the community. “It’s going to be a great weekend and it’s going to carry us right on over to the third year,” Anderson said.
Advance one-day ticket prices are $30 per adult in advance, or $45 at the gate. Multi-day tickets are $45 in advance or $60 at the gate. Children under age 12 accompanied by a paying adult are admitted free. Tickets are available online at https://keystix.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1000.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219