Weekend Ticket: Vidalia in concert for Friday fundraiser

Published 12:41 am Thursday, August 24, 2017


NATCHEZ — Ronnie Calhoun and his band Vidalia are coming home to help raise money for three special causes.

Friday night will be a first for the country music group, named for Calhoun’s hometown. The band has played in big and small venues across the Louisiana and the South, but the Vidaliam, the band, has never played in Vidalia, the town.

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The band is hosting a fundraiser concert from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday at the amphitheater on the Vidalia Riverfront.

The concert will begin kick off with music from local singers Heath Whittington, Dara Probst Shirley, Bailey Book and Taylor Spring.

Vidalia will end the night starting at 8 p.m. with their unique brand of country music that has been heard at LSU football games at Tiger Stadium and promoted by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Alex Bregman from the Houston Astros.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. Children 12 and under can attend for free.

Proceeds from the event will help the causes of the families of Aiden Taunton, Lilly-Anne Talene and Ellis Malone.

“A lot of people have been wanting us to come back home and play,” Calhoun said. “What better way to do that by helping these families.”

Taunton of Monterey was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma when she was 3 years old and died from the rare brain tumor in June at 5 years old. Part of the money raised at Friday’s concert will go to the Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Organization, which is striving to find a cure for the deadly cancer.

Talene from Ferriday is 4 years old and has been diagnosed with neuroblastoma. The young girl is currently with her family at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis undergoing treatment for the rare cancer. Part of the proceeds from the concert will go to Talene’s family to help pay for her treatment.

Malone was born in 2012 with Apert Syndrome, a very rare condition which causes abnormal growth of the skull and other bones. In her first two years of life, Malone had four major surgeries which allow her brain room to grow. Ten to 12 more surgeries will be necessary as Malone continues to grow into an adult. Part of the money from the concert will go the Ellis Malone Foundation, which assists with public awareness and financial assistance for families in the region living with the disease.

Calhoun said the band has already raised several thousands of dollars from donations and sponsorships from local businesses.

Calhoun said he grew up with Heather Malone and has connections with all of the families involved.

“God gave me the gift to be a songwriter,” Calhoun said. “Sometimes I feel helpless, but the one thing I can do is bring people together and write music.”

“Putting on this fundraiser was a no-brainer,” he said.

Tickets are available before the event at Week’s Furniture in Vidalia, Taunton’s of Monterey, Taunton’s Horseshoe Marina, Duck’s Nest or online at eventbrite.com.