April 10, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Those who know him best will tell you he''s one of the good guys. Selfless, generous with time, talent and encouragement. Ean Evans -- "The Mississippi Kid" -- has spent years doing for others. And now friends want to do something for him.
Evans, of Columbus, bass player for the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd band, is battling cancer. On Sunday, April 19, nationally-known and local musicians will converge at the Columbus Fairgrounds on Highway 69 South for an outdoor concert to show their support.
Frontman Johnny Van Zant and members of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd, members of multi-platinum rock band 3 Doors Down, Crossin Dixon, members from The Marshall Tucker Band, 38 Special and Molly Hatchet and other special guests are slated to appear.
The lineup also includes, at press time, Atlanta-based Blackberry Smoke, The Dirt Brothers, of Memphis, Tenn., and local musicians Big Joe Shelton, the Dawn Barham Band, Double Shot, the Kelsey Collins Band, Larry Priest and Joe St. John.
Gates will open at 8 a.m. Live entertainment begins at 2 p.m. and is expected to last until at least 10 p.m.
Admission is a donation of $10; or $5 for children 10 and under. Weather permitting, the event takes place outside. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets, but to leave personal coolers at home. Food and beverage vendors will be on site. In case of rain, festivities will move inside the Dave Lavender Coliseum.
Event information can be found at www.mississippikidfestival.com.
"Anybody that knows Ean knows how gracious he is," says Columbus musician Dennis McKay, a longtime friend and a co-organizer of the event along with Joy Collins, Mike Chain, Robert Rhett, Scott Daniels and others. "He''s helped plenty of benefits before; if he could do it, he was there. When he got sick, we started putting our heads together to see what we could do.
"Ean has always been a big promoter of Columbus and Mississippi," McKay continues. "He''ll tell you real quick, ''Yeah, I''m from Columbus; I''m the Mississippi Kid.'' And he always wears that ''Mississippi Kid'' T-shirt, so we decided to call it that. When we told him, he grinned from ear to ear."
Last week, Ean, born in Atlanta, and his wife, Eva, a Columbus native, returned to their home in eastern Lowndes County after grueling months of treatment in Nashville, Tenn.
"We''re just floored," Eva said Thursday of the concert effort. "We''re amazed and very humbled. ... We want everybody to have fun, to enjoy and to celebrate life; this is why it''s being called a festival."
Daniels, better known as radio and television personality ScottyD, is media coordinator for the benefit.
"We''re so honored to be able to do this; we''re trying to generate as much for these medical costs as we can," he stressed. "Ean has given an incredible amount of spirit to Columbus. He''s been an inspiration, both musically and in the way he''s led his life."
Joy Collins agrees. Her granddaughter, 15-year-old Kelsey, has been musically mentored by Ean since she was 10. Kelsey and her band will perform at the concert.
"She''s the first child he''d worked with," Collins said. "He''s been teaching her about the music industry, helping her learn the dynamics, teaching her even about lighting and sound. He''s been doing this because he believes in her. We want to give back to a man who''s given so much. And we''ve found so many people he''s mentored in the community."
A fund to defray medical expenses has been established by friends at Cadence Bank. To contribute, contact Brandy Collins, of Cadence, at 662-327-3700 and inquire about the Mississippi Kid Benefit Fund.
"All donations are really welcome," McKay stated. "And any sponsorships we can add to the festival will really help, too, no matter how large or small." To inquire about sponsorships, contact Daniels at 662-570-9590.
The Evans family wants friends and fans to know the strength they draw all the support.
"It''s overwhelming ... the outpouring of love and prayers," said Eva, clearly moved. "It''s just hard to put anything into words. We can''t get to everyone to tell them our thanks, but it means so much."
Ean has traveled the world, often living what many would call the life of a rock star, but he is perhaps never happier than when setting foot on home soil again.
As the song, "Mississippi," co-written by Ean, from the EvanCapps album says, "There''s a place I call my home ... Mississippi ... that''s where I''m gone be."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.