‘Keystock’ concert a benefit for veteran housing
Many say that success is never stationary—that it must grow in order to sustain momentum. For Joe Cleghorn, many doubted he could build on the incredible success of his Keystock Music Festival in 2014. That show witnessed more than 4,000 ticketholders gather to see the Doobie Brothers on the grounds at Truman Waterfront, while raising enough funds to give a war hero and his family a new home—a far cry for an event hatched along the cozy confines of Lazy Lakes RV park some years back.
But most people don’t really know Joe Cleghorn, which is by design. Joe is quick to deflect praise for the festival’s growing popularity and he intentionally dodges the spotlight. Instead, he credits people like Dave McGlathery and Mary Myers, his partners at Lazy Lakes, who are what he refers to as “the heart and soul” of the festival. He points to the generosity of long-time friend Howard Livingston, who will once again open for the main act at this year’s Keystock, while giving much of his time and resources to promote the event’s charitable agendas. And Joe keeps a rolling list of community supporters that have given their time and resources to assist, such as the Toppino family, who were instrumental in providing a new home to local veteran and war hero James Carey after last year’s concert.
However, just beneath the surface of his calm demeanor and smooth southern draw, Joe Cleghorn is driven by his passions, which is why for an encore; Grand Funk Railroad will headline this year’s event. And while music is one of Cleghorn’s greatest loves, Homes for Veterans, Inc., a non-profit he initially created to assist veterans with housing as they acclimate back into society, is his greatest love.
“I’m passionate about the men and women who sacrifice for this country,” said Cleghorn. “We’ve had men and women overseas for a long time now and it’s easy for many to forget they are there. That’s why it’s so important we do everything we can to help them out.”
And with that statement, Joe Cleghorn defines the spirit of the Keystock Music Festival. Sure, the festival continues to defy the odds of a concert in the Keys. It’s already boasted the likes of Three Dog Night, The Doobie Brothers and will now feature Grand Funk Rail Road. And while 4,000 were in attendance last year, Joe has cut ticket prices, while offering free admission to all military and their spouses or partners, along with all teachers and students and anyone under the age of 18 in hopes of surpassing 8,000 in attendance this year. But with every breath, Cleghorn continues to stress the true meaning of the festival.
“All profits go to Homes for Vets, Inc.,” said Cleghorn. “And drink sales will continue to go to the Rotary Club’s scholarship program. Rotary has been great to us. And when I saw them give their scholarship away last year, I got tears in my eyes. I’m sold on what Rotary does for education and our local students.”
Joe believes this year’s show will change the landscape of Homes for Veteran’s Inc. While the original plan was carried out last year when they raised enough support to give away a home, the new plan is what Joe refers to as the “transitional housing program.” This program is designed to offer free housing to a veteran in need for one year.
“We will end up being able to help many more vets at one time with this program,” said Joe. “Imagine coming back from overseas and trying to acclimate back into society. If we can give that man or woman a chance to live without the burden of housing costs for a year, I think we can make a big difference in their lives. And they deserve it, along with so much more.”
This year’s show, which Howard Livingston is dubbing the “Hero’s Concert,” will take place Saturday, May 2 at the Truman Waterfront in Key West. Liza Jane Cantana and the Unknowns will kick the show off, followed by Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band and then Grand Funk Rail Road. For Livingston, who has been performing since the inception of the show, it’s all about giving back.
“It’s powerful for me that we recognize those who keep us free and give so much,” said Livingston. “Those men and women are truly heroes and it’s just an honor for me to perform on their behalf.”
Homes for Veterans Inc. is currently accepting nominations for this year’s veteran, which if chosen, will be the recipient of free housing for one year. Anyone, local or from afar, can nominate a local veteran by sending Joe Cleghorn an email at [email protected].
- For VIP tickets call: 305-745-1079
- General admission tickets: www.keystix.com
- Doors open at 4:30 p.m.
- Liza Jane Cantana and the Unknowns 5:15 p.m.
- Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band at 6 p.m.
- Grand Funk Railroad!
To nominate a veteran for one year of free housing: [email protected]
VFW raffle for ’69 SS Camaro will be on sale at concert or call 305-294-9968 (proceeds go to VFW and Homes For Vets Inc.) for tickets.