Those looking for a fun evening and to support a worthy organization at the same time will not have to look any further than Bickley’s Lake in Thomaston on the evening of July 26. Beginning at 8 p.m., patrons will be transported back into the days of soul, beach and Motown with the performances of, headliners The Soul Purpose Band of Atlanta, and Grains of Sand of Athens, Ga. Net proceeds from the event will donated to the Gilmore Center in Thomaston, which provides support and services to adults with developmental disabilities.
The Soul Purpose Band, which features a five-piece rhythm section, a four-piece horn section and a male and female singer, is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and band founder and member Dave Penn knew he wanted to do something special to commemorate the date. Over the last two decades the band has played all over the state and had the opportunity to open for The Beach Boys at the Cherry Blossom Festival in 2000 and the Swinging Medallions at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Several of its members have also played with big name groups like Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips and The Temptations over the years.
When thinking of what to do to for a celebration, Penn, who is an Upson County native, knew he wanted to come back to his hometown for the big event. He felt the choice to hold a concert here was an easy one because a large portion of the band’s fans are Thomaston residents as they have played at several high school reunions and private parties here over the last two decades.
Seeing as this was going to be a much larger show event than the band’s normal gigs, Penn met up with his friend and high school classmate, George Hightower, to brainstorm on the best way to bring an exciting evening together. As they began tossing ideas around, Hightower suggested a good way to help draw a crowd would be to use the concert as a way to make a donation to a local organization. Penn thought it would be a great idea and knew just the group he wanted to help.
“We started planning this as a celebration of our 20th anniversary, then I heard about the Gilmore Center losing part of their funding from the county,” said Penn. “I thought they would be a great group to help out.”
The rest of the band agreed and thought it would be wonderful to be able to give something back to the community that had been so good to them over the years. So, Penn soon met up with Gilmore Center Executive Director Jim Aaron to see if he would be onboard.
“When I talked with Jim, he told me that they had never had anyone volunteer to help like this before. He was all for it and I knew then there was no question that we should do it.”
Penn had also been looking for a way to team up with his friends in the Grains of Sand band for a show and felt this would be the perfect opportunity to bring the two bands together. Both bands play music from the 60s and 70, specifically, classic soul, beach and Motown.
Penn noted the only way you will hear something from groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones is if somebody from the genre’s they play sang it first or did a cover of the song. His reasoning behind that is because when he formed the band in 1994, he knew he wanted to play the type of music he used to play while in several bands throughout high school. Some in town may remember former groups he was involved with such as The S.O.A.B.S, The Apaches and Alfonzo Britt and the Fabulous Bootleggers, which used to play at community dances and other local gigs. However, even if you did not grow up in the 60s, Penn feels the music of the night will have something that everyone can sing along to such as “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)” by the Contours,which was in the hit movie “Dirty Dancing.”
In hopes of drawing a large crowd, the bands decided they wanted to keep the cost of a ticket to a minimum and settled on the amount of $10 each. Piggie Park or English’s Café will both be selling tickets if you want to purchase them prior to the concert to save time from standing in line the night of the event; but Penn emphasized that cost will be the same at the gate. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis, so it is recommended to come early and get a good spot for the show and patrons are allowed to bring their own blankets and chairs. Gates will open at 7 p.m. and the concert will begin at 8 p.m.
Penn noted he could not be more excited about the concert and hopes plenty of people will turn out to help the band celebrate their 20th anniversary and to help a worthy organization as well.
“It is going to be a huge night and a fun night,” Penn said. “I love Thomaston and I love Thomaston people. I have been humbled by the support we have gotten from the community for this event. It is going to be a fun, fun night and we hope to see everyone there.”
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1