Spirit of ’76 lights up the Queen in Wilmington (video)

(Paul Parmelee/WHYY)

(Paul Parmelee/WHYY)

For the fifth consecutive year a packed house at World Cafe LIVE at The Queen moved and grooved to an all star line-up of local musicians Saturday night.

In what has become the hottest ticket in town, the annual Shine A Light On The Queen concert raises funds for The Light Up The Queen Foundation, a non-profit organization which formed to help renovate the theater and now provides music programs for under served children in the community.

The previous four Shine A Light shows, the first three of which featured Rolling Stones songs and last year the music of 1975, raised $255,000 for the foundation. This year’s show featured the music of 1976, with 67 musicians from in and around the Wilmington music scene rotating in and out to perform 39 songs from that year. The song list ran the gamut of musical styles, including rock, reggae, country, funk, and disco.

“It’s a diverse, interesting, and eclectic choice of music” said Rob Grant, a performer and co-founder of the event. “It’s a really fun opportunity for everybody to come together…it’s week after week of rehearsals, working through songs, building them and making them what they become that is really where a lot of the fun is for us.”

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Rehearsals began in early January and took place every Sunday in a warehouse near New Castle. All participants are unpaid, volunteering their time and talent to give back to the community and to the venue where many of them often perform with their principal bands. Through word of mouth and social media, the event has sold out every year.

“We have the five largest crowds ever in this building for any concert of any sort,” Grant said. “So that’s pretty exciting, that’s a mark of success, we’ve done our job well.”

With the 1,000 person capacity always reached, the foundation has looked for other ways to increase donations. “We’ve been able to take that enthusiasm of the community and just raise the bar by trying to increase the fundraising from that…raising some ticket prices, some ancillary approaches to getting money,” said foundation treasurer Tom Williams.

This year’s tickets were $60 for standing room on the floor and $250 for VIP amenities in the balcony. There was also a texting donation service set up for people to give from their phones during the show, with monitors throughout the building showing the amount raised and messages from those donating. A free live web stream of the show was also available, with viewers encouraged to donate.

“This is a unique fundraiser,” Williams said. “We don’t have silent auctions, we don’t have people pitching for money really, it’s just a big rock ‘n roll show and we just want people to come and have a great time.”

No official numbers have been released on the amount raised this year, but at a final glance at the monitor as the concert wrapped up after four hours, the thermometer had passed the $86,000 mark.

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