Celebrating a life in music

Friday, June 3, 2005
Members of the Leiner family and the Melroys -- from left, Jordan Leiner, Angie Leiner, Noah Leiner, Gregg Hopkins, Sally Leiner and Michael Enderle -- see this weekend's festival as a fitting tribute to a lost friend, husband and father.

One of the biggest music festivals of the season will take place in Scott City Park Saturday.

This festival won't be about the bottom dollar or promoting bands. Instead it will be about celebrating the life of one of Southeast Missouri's most successful musicians -- Randy Leiner -- and building on the legacy he left behind.

The Randy Leiner Memorial Music Festival and Scholarship Benefit will feature six bands from 2 to 9 p.m., culminating in a musical tribute to the late Scott City native who founded The Melroys and fronted them to independent label Americana success before his untimely death in February.

Featured acts at the seven-hour event will include The Gordons; The Chimes of Freedom and Friends, a group of musicians who played with Randy Leiner in his high school garage band called The Chimes of Freedom; 13th Floor; Common Thread; Bruce Zimmerman and the Water Street Band; The Leiner Brothers Band, a group made of up Leiner's sons Jordan and Noah and his wife Sally; and The Melroys, which Jordan has fronted after his father's death with bassist Gregg Hopkins and drummer Mike Enderle.

The musicians and workers at the festival have all volunteered their time to help raise money for a scholarship in Leiner's name at Southeast Missouri State University that will help an artistically inclined high school senior, preferably a songwriter, from Cape Girardeau County or Scott County attend college.

Those who knew Leiner said the scholarship is a fitting tribute.

"He'd try to encourage anybody who had a love for music and love for playing," said Steve McPheeters, one of the festival's organizers. McPheeters was a close friend of Leiner's and played with him in The Chimes of Freedom.

So far $7,000 has been raised from sponsors and contributors to go toward the scholarship fund, which is a great number, said McPheeters. At least $10,000 is needed to endow the scholarship at the university, he said.

"It's the people who come out and pay the $10 minimum donation who will make the difference," McPheeters said. "If a few hundred people turn out we'll not only have a good time but we'll have enough money to endow the scholarship."

All proceeds from food, drinks, CDs and T-shirts sold at the event will go toward the scholarshp fund.

Leiner's fans will get a chance to hear four decades of his music since his time with the Chimes of Freedom.

"People will be amazed at some of the songs he wrote when he was just 16 or 17 years old," McPheeters said. "He was just an amazing lyricist."

The festival will be touching for Leiner's friends, and for his family most of all. While it will be a celebration of his life and focused on having a good time, there will be some sadness, said Jordan.

"I would not be surprised if I was overwhelmed," said Jordan. "It will be a very emotional performance."

The Leiner family is glad to have the event, seeing it as a kind of therapy in the aftermath of the tragic death, said Jordan.

Immediately following the festival, attendees are encouraged to go to Schock's Place for a Tunes and Tacos party, an event that Leiner used to hold to celebrate food and music.

And McPheeters said the festival will go on rain or shine, since the park has a large pavilion to accommodate the event in case of rain.

Tickets are available at Shivelbine's Music, Kohlfeld Distributing, C.P. McGinty Jewelers, Broussard's and Capaha Bank in Cape Girardeau and at the city hall in Scott City.

Those who can't attend but wish to donate can do so with an account set up at Capaha Bank.


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