REO Speedwagon will headline the sixth annual School Rocks! benefit concert on Thursday, October 25, at Chicago’s House of Blues. One hundred percent of the proceeds will provide scholarships and community support to students at San Miguel School Chicago. To date, the event has raised over $2,000,000 for San Miguel.
San Miguel School Chicago provides an innovative and accessible educational experience for inner city and at-risk students. The curriculum engages faculty, family and the community to meet the individualized needs of each student through middle-school programs that include an extended school day and a low student-to-teacher ratio, as well as graduate support high school youth development programs and family-strengthening programs.
Kevin and Anne Allodi co-chair the benefit concert. Seven years ago, Kevin Allodi met production manager Tim Rozner backstage at a Styx concert. Their mutual love for music was the basis for what became a close friendship. This, in turn led to Rozner’s involvement in the annual School Rocks! benefit concerts.
Tim Rozner has a lifetime of experience in the music business, dating back to his high school years. He has been on the road as a tour manager and production manager since he was 19, beginning with Muddy Waters and eventually touring the world with rock bands such as Aerosmith, KISS, and his ongoing work with Styx. He spoke about his involvement with School Rocks! and why the event matters.
How did you become involved with the San Miguel fundraisers?
Kevin and I started talking backstage at a Styx show. We became good friends. Kevin was obviously a huge music fan when I first met him. He has passion for everything he does, and music is clearly one of those passions. For somebody not in that industry, he was very in tune with it. He was doing a fundraiser, I had just come off tour and it sounded like a good thing. I had some time, so I said I’d help him out with it.
The first one was a real challenge.
The first one was fairly ambitious. I was used to working with a lot of finely tuned and finely honed technicians and production staff, and this was a fundraiser with very well-intentioned people who didn’t have a lot of experience, but they pulled it off. We didn’t really have any time, an hour or so from the minute they closed the museum to setting up our needs, staging, gear, sound, video and lighting. That’s not foreign to me because we do massive set changes all the time, but this was a one-shot deal for a fundraiser with volunteers, and it was great. That’s how the first one started, and it also featured a lot of my friends, including Jim Peterik, Jim Pilster and other players that are legends in Chicago, so I jumped at the chance. I love working with those people. They were some of the roots of early rock in Chicago.
Have you gotten into the groove of setting up the event, or is it still a lot of pressure?
I function more as a consultant. There are a lot of people in that organization — that’s not their vocation, but they’re very good at marshaling cooperation and help, and that’s the key. And they have good leadership. So I consult, lending my experience in some ways, but for the most part Kevin and the whole San Miguel staff have done yeoman’s work; these are successful fundraisers and they’re not easy to do. I don’t think I would even consider the first one as high pressure by normal standards. It was an indoor event, controlled environment and a lot to pull off in a short time with a lot of players on a very small stage in the House of Blues, and a lot of other things going on at the same time as far as drawings and silent auctions. It’s a large bit of coordination overall. The part I consult on, the live show, is merely one little part of that event. It starts with contact with a lot of people who do a great job of marketing and getting the word out about the value of this event, and that’s a great thing. That’s what makes a lot of people willing to participate. It’s good, it’s well run, the energies and efforts are going to the right place at the end, and that’s big for everybody involved.
When do you come into the picture with these events?
Kevin, to his credit, starts talking about this and getting the energy going about it shortly after one finishes the year before. He knows the one thing that’s important and valuable is to get the kind of people that you think would fit with this event. So far, they’ve been very successful in getting top-name entertainers who have a local connection. It’s an event that, in an informal way, asks the entertainer to share in the passion of it, and we’ve seen that. You always have to be careful to bring in entertainment that matches the vibe and intention of the event, and Kevin has learned quite effectively that trying to attract those acts and gain their availability is best done early on. The San Miguel event was booked before these bands finalized their spring and summer plans for touring. His great success in the business world, and things that Kevin seems to get involved in, have integrity, and he’s not heavy-handed. His approach is very gracious and almost humbling, and you can see that he puts as much into these things as he asks from anybody else, if not even more. I’m a firm believer in leading by example, and that’s one of his strengths. His time commitment and energy into this event every year are significant. It is multi-prong, multi-faceted, there’s as much care and attention to the people coming in, the benefactors, the contributors, the bidders in the silent auction, as there is to the entertainment side, which is a hard thing to do. There are a lot of good people involved in this. I can’t say that I know all of them, but I’ve crossed paths with them over the years and seen them do the work, and I have to say they’re up there with the top event planners.
Why is this particular fundraiser important to you?
I do a lot of fundraisers. It’s a matter of time and lending your experience. When I come off of a tour or project and a fundraiser happens to fall at the right time … there have been times when we’ve collaborated fundraisers with tours. It’s a local, very worthwhile thing. It makes me feel good to participate in it, a lot of people that I’ve come to respect greatly are involved, and a lot of significant people in Chicago that are asked to participate in a lot of fundraisers seem to be more than willing to participate in this one. It lends itself once again that the entire fundraising effort for San Miguel Schools is very comfortable to me. The people that are in it don’t need to do this to survive, most of them are comfortable, and when you have those kinds of people making an effort and spending their time, it’s a good thing to get involved with. It has become an important project to me. It’s something I’ve participated in directly or in a consulting manner and I think I’ve been to every one. It’s important. It’s a good one.
For more information, visit www.sanmiguelrocks.org, www.sanmiguelchicago.org and www.facebook.com/SanMiguelSchoolsChicago.
Read Kevin Allodi’s interview at the link below.