Ninth annual ‘Rock the Oaks’ benefit event a huge success

Kelsey Bridges performs “Road Less Traveled” with singers Alaina Blair, Brianna Parish and Rock the Oaks Producer Gwyn Sanborn, Feb. 4. Shane Gibson photo
Kelsey Bridges performs “Road Less Traveled” with singers Alaina Blair, Brianna Parish and Rock the Oaks Producer Gwyn Sanborn, Feb. 4. Shane Gibson photo

The Ninth Annual Rock the Oaks benefit concert was the biggest ever. Over 1,000 people attended the three performances held Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4, at The Bridge Church in Murrieta. The event benefits the arts and autism program at the Oak Grove Center for Arts, Education & Treatment.

“This is the best ticket in town for the number and quality of performers,” said one attendee, “and it all supports a great cause.”

Alaina Blair, Kelsey Bridges, Brianna Parish, and Gwyn Sanborn opened all three shows blending their voices to “Road Less Traveled.” Sanborn closed each show with “Shut Up and Dance With Me.”

On Friday night, informally known as ‘country music night’, there were 33 performers in 22 acts, including Marlee Walker, Courtney Poissant, JaeCe Simon, Sam Cary, Kayla Kazen, Madi Claborn, Hannah Wathen, Katelynn Bridges and many more.

Saturday’s matinee featured 65 performers in 24 acts, including Oak Grove’s performance and dance teams. Performers included Holly Petrucci (2016 Traditional Country Vocalist & Entertainer of the Year), Shiba Ahadi, Kaitlyn Smith, Mikayla and Gracelynn Sanborn, Joel Gomez, Luren Campfield, Jarred and James Vermillion, Alyssa Kurt, Iris Zietlow (2016 WCCMA New Country Vocalist of the Year).

A major highlight of the evening was the Oak Grove Dance Team performing a part of “Phantom of the Opera” under the direction of master choreographer Kimmie Morrow (who has done work for M.C. Hammer and Missy Elliott). The Oak Grove Performance Team did “Rise” also choreographed by Kimmie Morrow.

A medley from “Frozen” performed by the Gracenotes was extremely popular. Autograph signing by Princess Elsa was a special treat for the children, many of whom came in costume.

For the final show, Saturday evening, 31 performers entertained the audience in 25 acts.

The Ranch Rockers – house band for “Country Live!” at the Merc — accompanied many of the performers as the “Rock the Oaks” house band.

The event raised $15,845 for the arts and autism programs, a 43 percent increase over last year.

“I am so thankful for the many supporters, sponsors, and artists that helped make this the most successful yet,” said Oak Grove CEO Tammy Wilson. “Funds raised help support our arts program which in turn provides opportunities for our students to not only to engage in performing, dance, visual, martial and culinary arts but also Film, Music, and drama and to benefit from the healing power of the arts to work through past pain and trauma, to build self-esteem, connect with others and become part of something larger than one’s past.

Rock the Oaks, which was dedicated to the life and legacy of Elsa Brewer, will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2018.

Oak Grove is a nonprofit residential, educational and treatment center for at-risk youth. Their next event is “Evening Under the Oaks,” a Silent Auction and Dinner Benefit April 29. Due to overwhelming demand the Oak Grove Dance Team will perform an encore of their “Phantom of the Opera” show at the event. For more information, contact [email protected].

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