KEARNEY — When it comes to making a difference in the world, musicians in central Nebraska such as Steve Main do the best they can.
“When we started this thing, my wife and I sat down and this kind of came out: I’m not smart enough to cure cancer and I’m not going to end world hunger, but if I can help somebody around here, then we’re better for it,” he said.
Using this philosophy, Main and the organizers of the M.I.K.E. Annual Event come together once a year to raise funds for needy community musicians and students of music that require a helping hand. This year’s event, 6-10 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles Club, features music, food and drawings for prizes. Admission is by donation.
“There are two areas that have things going on,” Main said. “There’s a room that is in the northeast corner of the building where we will have a chili feed and solo and duo acts, sort of a listening room with food. In the big room, at 6 p.m., we’ll have the Fly Over Band followed by a mish-mash of Code Blue and Blue Plate Special that is more of a dance-type situation.”
While patrons can donate any amount they want, for every $10 donated at the door, patrons will receive one ticket for a drawing.
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“If you put in $100 you get 10 tickets,” Main said. “At 9 p.m. we’ll be drawing those raffle tickets. We have some really good prizes. We have a 49-inch LG flat-screen TV from Russell’s Appliances, two tickets to the Chicago concert at the Heartland Events Center and a suite for four people at Fonner Race Park in Grand Island.”
The event, named in honor of musician Mike Adams, started as a fundraiser several years ago.
“We held a fundraiser for the boyfriend of a musician in the area who had gotten hurt in a mowing accident,” Main said. “And it seemed that every year there are musicians in the area that have a need and need a little extra helping hand. We decided, OK, we see that this is happening, other than just throwing a fundraiser when something happens, let’s quickly build up some funds to have available when someone needs them.”
Main and the organizers called the group “Musicians Investing Kindness and Energy” or M.I.K.E., a tribute to singer/songwriter Mike Adams. They teamed with the Kearney Area Community Foundation.
“Now we build up funds,” Main said. “People submit requests when they see a musician friend in the area that has a need, they approach me or the foundation or the committee we’ve put together, and we award money to people in the area who need help.”
M.I.K.E. has helped cover funeral expenses, medical fees and dental costs.
“We even bought a clarinet for a young gal a couple of years ago,” he said. “We’ve set up college funds for the small children of a band director in Grand Island who passed away. Whatever unexpected needs come up, whenever someone needs a little help, we try to be there.”
Main, who works at Yanda’s Music Store, sometimes meets gig musicians passing through the area. He often brings up the strong sense of community found in musicians in central Nebraska.
“When this comes up in conversation, they are kind of dumbfounded; that all the musicians in this area seem to get along really well and help one another,” Main said. “It doesn’t seem that there is a cutthroat competition around here. We’re almost a musical family.”
Main understands the need for a strong sense of confidence and a healthy ego, just in order to get up in front of an audience and perform. He also understands the need to turn off that ego when a fellow musician needs help.
Main performs with the band Bases Loaded.
“I probably will not be performing much because I’ll be running around and making sure that everything is going smoothly through the entire event,” he said. “I’ll be announcing the groups as they come up. I may sit in with Code Blue at some point, maybe between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., sing or play a couple songs.”