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Fans hold on tightly to time

38 Special draws thousands to Pa. fire company fundraiser

38 Special draws thousands to Pa. fire company fundraiser

August 08, 2005|by MARIE GILBERT

Middle-aged men played air guitars, and their wives danced and sang along with the music.

For the estimated 2,000 people attending Saturday night's 38 Special concert, it was a chance to recapture their youth.

"I hope they play all their hits, the songs I grew up with," said Seth Michaels, 49, of Hagerstown.

He wasn't disappointed.

The benefit concert at the North American Rod and Gun Club was sponsored by Friendship Engine and Hose Co. No. 1, McKinley Street Station in Chambersburg, Pa.

It was hosted in partnership with radio stations WIKZ Mix 95.1 FM, WQCM 94.3 FM and Rockin Promotions.

The evening also featured Nuthin' Fancy, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band that entertained concertgoers with rock classics like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird."

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But it was 38 Special that got the crowd to its feet, kicking off its set with "Rockin' Into the Night" from the 1979 album of the same name.

Guitarist and vocalist Donnie Van Zant said this year marks the 30th anniversary of the band.

"We've been doing this a long time," he told the crowd, "but we still love every minute of it."

Saturday's event was one of about 100 concerts 38 Special plays every year, said Suzanne Rogers of Myrtle Beach, S.C., whose husband is the band's tour manager.

The band encouraged the crowd to sing along and played many of the rock favorites fans came to hear, including "Wild-Eyed Southern Boy" and "Hold on Loosely."

The band also promoted its latest CD, "Drivetrain," its first studio album in years.

Chris King of Carlisle, Pa., was among the 38 Special fans who showed up for the concert.

"I'm in my 40s now," she said, "but I'm still a big '80s girl. And I've been a fan of this group for a long time. I was so excited when I heard they were coming to Hagerstown, I told my husband, 'We're going.'"

This was the 12th time Cory Forrester of Chambersburg, Pa., had seen 38 Special in concert.

"I'm a lifelong fan," he said. "I heard they were coming to this area and I knew I'd be there.

"This is a blast," he added. "It's a great, mellow crowd."

Carol Miller, 50, of Hagerstown, thought the outdoor venue was a perfect place to enjoy 38 Special.

"About eight of us brought our lawn chairs and enjoyed a little picnic before the music started," she said. "We're big fans of the band, so we decided to make a night of it. Plus, we're supporting a good cause."

Robert Murray, event coordinator and assistant secretary with Friendship Fire Co., said this was the first time the company held a concert as a fundraiser.

Murray said the Chambersburg fire company decided to hold the concert in Hagerstown for several reasons.

"First, our concert promoters, Rockin Promotions, has used the Rod and Gun Club for events such as this. And second, Hagerstown is more accessible to Baltimore and Washington, so we could draw people from a larger area."

Murray said his committee began working on the concert in February, hoping to bring in a nationally known group.

"I think we made the right choice," he said. "We've gotten such great feedback and a lot of phone calls from people telling us how excited they were."

Proceeds from the concert will be used toward replacing the company's 1980 firetruck, organizers said.

"Twenty-five years later, fire equipment has really changed," Murray said. "We'd like to have something more efficient for today's firefighting."

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