Muddy toes at Junction

The pristine white tent belied the condition of the ground beneath it on Saturday evening when patrons gathered at Amphitheater Park for the beginning of an evening of festivities.

With late afternoon skies clearing, a golden and pink light painted a spectacular sunset to the west down the railroad tracks and music lovers and Bo Bice fans began to drift past the concessions and through the gates with folding chairs.

For seating at the concert following, patrons enjoyed reserved seats closer to the stage, where an evening of live music kept the crowd cheering until after 11 p.m.

In spite of efforts by city employees to make the area more accessible by spreading hay over the most-trodden paths, mud would be a memorable element of this charity fundraiser.

Planned by Bo Bice, in honor of the late Larry Childers, his mentor and friend, 100 percent of the funds raised benefitted charities dear to Childers’ heart — the Helena Police and Fire Explorers, Civitans, cervical cancer research, Safehouse and the Scholarship Fund for the Hearing Impaired.

An acoustic song swap with Janet Hall O’Neil, Steve Norris and Dan Farmer on Friday evening at La Reunion Coffee Café kicked off the weekend. Shops in Old Town also donated a percentage of weekend sales.

Around 9:30 Saturday morning, participants in the Smoke ‘n Gun Poker Run rolled out onto Alabama 261, led by Bo Bice to venues in Montevallo and Calera and three other stops in between showers.

Jammin’ at the Junction featured a series of musical artists leading up to Bice’s appearance, backed by the band Rock Candy.

Alexa Rankin, acoustic guitar player and songwriter and teenage daughter of Dave and Jennifer Rankin of Wildflower Wax, started the evening off, followed by The Overalls, Unshackled, the Mitchell Brothers (special guests of Bice from Nashville) and award-winning blues band, 2Blu and The Lucky Stiffs.

Bice sang a repeat of the song he wrote for another friend’s passing and played at Childers’ funeral, leaving few dry eyes among the family members present.

He spoke of his love for the community and people of Helena and thanked the host of volunteers whose efforts made the event a success. The evening ended with a rousing rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Laura Brookhart can be reached at labro16@yahoo.com.