The usual powerhouse lineup will play the music of half a century ago in the annual concert to support the Light Up the Queen Foundation
When it comes to music, yesteryear can seem like yesterday, and that’s the feeling the annual Shine a Light concert will aim for by rolling back the clock to 1968 to create warm memories for those lucky enough to secure a ticket. Sponsored by the Light Up the Queen Foundation, the concert is set for Saturday, March 3, at The Queen in Wilmington. Tickets for the annual event have always sold out, but there’s still time to purchase general admission or the highly-sought-after VIP tickets, which include a Celebrity Chef menu executed by The CROP Foundation, open bar featuring Tito’s specialty cocktails and Twin Lakes craft beer, exclusive balcony seating, front pit access and more. This year’s concert will once again bring together an all-star lineup of scores of the most popular and revered musical performers in the Wilmington area. For many, 1968 was a year of turmoil, but from that chaos arose some of the best music of the 20th century, and it’s reflected in the set list for this year’s concert. “We have rock, country, jazz, blues, Top-40, and more,” says “Harmonica” Pete Cogan, a veteran of the concert series. “The magic of the show is that it takes everyone out of their own bands and puts you with other people you’ve never played with before. You get to meet other band members and their followers and that really opens up a lot of doors for you as a performer.” “The Light Up The Queen Foundation began in 2008 with a single arts education program and has developed and diversified over the years,” says Tina Betz, the foundation’s executive director. “The concert is by far our biggest fundraiser, pulling in well over a half million dollars in its seven-year run. The money raised allows us to serve about 3,600 children and young adults a year—well over 10,000 in total—through our programs. And we are just picking up speed.” After tackling the Rolling Stones’ catalog for the first few years of the event, organizers decided to fete all styles of music of 1975 three years ago and followed that by celebrating 1976 and 1977 in subsequent years. This year, the decision was made to step back even farther, to 1968, in a salute to a golden year of music.
John Cassidy, multi-instrumentalist for Kategory 5, likes the idea of celebrating 1968, but says slyly, “I hope we don’t go back to 1959 next year.” When horn player Alan Yandziak jokingly frets they might eventually run out of years and songs, Shine A Light Executive Committee member Tom Williams laughs and says, “Don’t worry, we still have a lot of quality songs from which to choose in coming years.” Guitarist Nick Bucci, regarded reverently by many area musicians, says that 1968 is right in his wheelhouse. “I had the opportunity to play on some Steely Dan songs during previous years’ shows,” he says, “but having a chance to emulate Jimi Hendrix [this year] is a challenge I’m looking forward to.” Bucci’s exalted standing in the musical community contrasts with Cole Petrillo, who will make his debut in the concert series this year. “I used to sneak into practices when my dad (Mike “Pops” Petrillo) would be rehearsing for past shows,” he says. “I hope to get to play on a song with him and also with Pat Kane (guitar),” who played his first Shine a Light show last year. This constant infusion of new performers helps keep the show fresh year after year. Singer Nihkee Bleu also made her debut last year and says her experience was “fun and awesome.” It reinforced in her that “people really love music from 40-50 years ago,” she says. “I spoke to people who could not make it to last year’s show and they were very disappointed. I wasn’t even born in the 1960s, but I think music from that era is more relevant today than it ever was.” Drummer John DiGiovanni, of Steal Your Peach, can relate. “This is my music, the music I grew up on. I was in high school in 1968.” He considers it an honor to be included, especially since a scheduling conflict prevented him from performing at last year’s show. Kat Pigliacampi, lead singer for Kategory 5, has her hair color (sort of) to thank for her first invitation to perform at the show, back when it featured The Rolling Stones’ music. “(Shine A Light Planning Committee member Rob Grant) called me up and said they needed another backup singer,” says Pagliacampi. “He told me they have a blonde, a redhead and needed a brunette, so that was how I first got involved.” She says that back then, “it was a lot more rogue, but still well organized.” Since The Stones don’t feature female lead singers, it was more “guy-oriented,” but she says she will miss the chance to do more disco and prog rock by not continuing on to 1978. Like everyone else, Pigliacampi is looking forward to this year’s show, citing “the spirit of unity. It’s all about the music.” While everyone involved tries to make each show better than the previous year, they also recognize the true focus of the event—the Light Up the Queen Foundation. Kathleen Ford, co-chair of the Shine A Light Committee, says, “The focus on arts education has resulted in even more—and larger—sponsors than ever this year, which allows us to serve more children than before.” With this year’s show offering an enhanced video production with some surprises, tickets are—as usual—going fast to this local musical event of the year. Check availability at LightUpTheQueen.Org/ShineALight.