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Oso Landslide Victims Benefit – Chance McKinney

$10,000 Donation to Oso in just one set "selfie"
Chance McKinney Oso Landslide Victims Benefit @ Tulalip Resort Casino

Chance McKinney Oso Landslide Victims Benefit @ Tulalip Resort Casino

On April 4th, something “magical” happened.  The tragedy that occurred on March 22nd in Oso, WA (Arlington/Darrington/Oso Area) has led to an unprecedented outpouring of support from the surrounding areas of WA, not to mention other parts of the United States.  In less than 2 weeks time, over 100 benefits/fundraisers/donations have taken place.  We’d like to focus on one in particular.

The Oso Landslide Victims Benefit featuring Chance McKinney (& Ron Stubbs) was held on Friday, April 4th at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Marysville, WA (a neighboring city to Oso in WA).  The concert was “Chance McKinney idea with a whole lotta Tulalip Resort Casino elbow grease” says McKinney.  In an interview with KOMO News – ABC 4 (Seattle, WA), McKinney spoke about the speed with which it went from “idea” to “reality.”

Chance McKinney "stage dives" with the crowd at Tulalip Resort Casino

Chance McKinney “stage dives” with the crowd at Tulalip Resort Casino

“I literally brought it up over a conference call with the planners/directors of the casino and the Tulalip Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series as we were discussing options for the upcoming season.  Of the folks around the table, I was directed to Shane Warbus (Operations Manager for Food & Beverage Services).  He picked up the phone as our meeting came to a close and we chatted about the possibility of hosting a Oso Benefit at the casino with less than one week’s time to plan it.  I figured I’d get the idea (albeit a good one), shoved back in my face considering the amount of work it was going to take to pull it off successfully.  That, however, was NOT the response I got.”

Within the hour, Warbus and McKinney were on the phone again for the 2nd time after running the idea up the flagpole (or totem, if you’d prefer) on both ends.  There was nothing but positive response from both camps.  “As we began, I apologized to Shane.  Man, I’m sooooo sorry for all the additional work I’ve created.  How are you gonna fit this in on top of your normal, overflowing responsibilities in operations?  He responded with a ‘doesn’t matter Chance.  It’s the cause that matters.'”

Two days later, the event artwork was complete, social networking posts were lined up, extra staffing for the concert was secured, all the paperwork had been filled out, special guests had been contacted and it was ready to “go public.”  Chance made the announcement first on http://www.facebook.com/ChanceMcKinneyMusic which soon followed on Twitter (@ChanceMcKinney), Instagram and more.  Within 3 hours, over 20,000 people online had seen the event.  “After 3 hours of the #Oso #Landslide #Victims #Benefit being posted, I received an email from the GM of Seattle Wolf asking if we’d like help promoting it.  I bet it took less than an hour after I responded before the Wolf had PSA’s runnin’ to help us push” gushed McKinney.

By the time the Tulalip sent out the press release and they started promoting it through social networking, the concert was pushing 40,000 views on Facebook alone.  They even started receiving donations days before the event started.  Warbus said “we put out a flier, nothing official, just a computer copied paper to some of our patrons at the casino to let them know we’d be doing a $20 Admission on a normally ‘free Friday’ night and what the benefit was for.  Little did we know we’d be collecting funds on the spot.”

Friday the 4th came…  Social networks were abuzz… KOMO – ABC 4 was there to cover the event “live.”  McKinney told us later that “I remember passing by the front entrance on the way backstage when one of the gals handed me a slip of paper saying we’d already reached $6500 in donations” before the concert even began.  “I took the slip with me and showed the guys before we even took the stage.  Our goal of $10,000 was within reach.  We were buzzing with excitement by that time.”

As Ron Stubbs (Grammy nominated hypnotist) finished up his act and brought Chance on, the Tulalip Canoes Cabaret was no less packed than a normal Friday night only this time… it wasn’t free to get in ($20 Admission/Donation required) and people were on fire.  Literally, “when Chance hit the stage at 9:30 there was a palpable buzz in the crowd.”  Stubbs continued with “you’d have thought I was bringing on Elvis, or Garth with the response he got.”

By the end of the first set, Chance, his band, Stubbs and the Tulalip we’re all smiles with an accumulated donation surpassing $10,000.  So much so, there’s a $10,000 “selfie” they took backstage floating around online somewhere that’s the talk of the town. (Photo courtesy of @ChanceMcKinney Instagram Feed)

$10,000 Donation to Oso in just one set "selfie"

$10,000 Donation to Oso in just one set “selfie”

“Folks were literally throwing money up on stage” says McKinney.  “I spent 4 hours on stage that night and only managed to sing 22 songs.  Normally, we’d do anywhere from 45-50 songs in a night, but with folks handing me twenties, hundreds and whatever change they had on ’em I spent more time collecting dollars than performing.”

“I’ve never been a part of anything like that.  Never.  Just off the top of my head I remember money coming in from all the surrounding Washington communities (Arlington, Darrington, Mukilteo, Marysville, Everett, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, Seattle, etc.) and some unexpected out of state donations.  There was a guy there from my hometown of Missoula, MT that must’ve thrown at least 6 or 7 hundred dollar bills on stage.  I remember a gal from Washington, Georgia… a guy from Arlington, Texas and others from Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and so many other states I think I’ve forgotten.”

In all, McKinney and the Tulalip collected $16,007.48 by night’s end.  100% of that went straight to Oso Victims.  “We actually searched around for an organization that had no overhead.  We wanted every single penny to make it to the folks who needed it.” (Photo courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/ChanceMcKinneyMusic)

Shane Warbus (Tulalip Resort Casino) & Chance McKinney congratulate each other after April 4th Oso Landslide Victims Benefit concert on a $16,000 donation.

Shane Warbus (Tulalip Resort Casino) & Chance McKinney congratulate each other after April 4th Oso Landslide Victims Benefit concert on a $16,000 donation.

“I’ve tried to explain to people what happened that night, but it always comes out shy of the truth.  How often can you really say that?  I mean, most of us spend our whole lives over exaggerating, but that night can’t be explained without under exaggerating.  The outpouring of human generosity.  The looks in people’s eyes when they handed over money or told their story. The willingness to take care of those in genuine need.  Those are the things I’ll take away and remember for the rest of my life.”

Chance McKinney and Tulalip Resort Casino Donate $16,000 to Oso Victims

Chance McKinney and Tulalip Resort Casino Donate $16,000 to Oso Victims

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Back to Mukilteo… what a “welcome home.”

Chance McKinney n' CrossWire OPENING for Dwight Yoakam

Published on Wed, Feb 9, 2011 by Sara Bruestle
 Local country star Chance McKinney is busy touring the nation  – but that doesn’t mean he’s too busy to return home to Mukilteo.

McKinney and the band CrossWire are scheduled to play an all-ages show at the Rosehill Community Center on Friday, Feb. 11, to benefit Kamiak High School’s senior class.  It will be the first concert at the new venue.

McKinney, a former math teacher at Kamiak, beat out 63 other unsigned country singer-songwriters to win CMT’s Music City Madness contest in 2009.

Since winning CMT’s contest, McKinney has been touring nationwide, performing most of his shows in the Pacific Northwest.

“I love it,” McKinney said of the change from teaching to performing.  “I get to do music for a living.  

“It’s huge, really.  It’s like being a kid and playing all the time.”

When the Kamiak Grad Knight Committee contacted him about returning to Mukilteo for a benefit concert, he was more than willing to do it.  

“We thought this would be a great opportunity for him to come back and see the community again, help the senior class and promote his music,” said Mary Cartwright, chair of the concert.

 “Most of the shows are 21 and over, so it’s a rare all-ages opportunity. Most of the places are either bars or casinos.”

All proceeds from the concert go to Kamiak’s Grad Night, an all-night safe and sober party for Kamiak seniors after they graduate.

This is the second concert McKinney has performed to benefit Kamiak.  The first was held last January.

Ever since the first benefit concert in Mukilteo, Cartwright and her friend Janet Hammond – they met at the concert – have been Chance McKinney fans.  They go to as many shows as they can where they help to manage T-shirt and CD sales for the band.

“I’m proud of them,” she said.  “It’s been very fun to say, ‘Wow, we were there from the beginning.’”

McKinney said the concert at Rosehill represents his continued thanks to the 2,200 students at Kamiak for telling friends and family in at least 28 states and five countries to vote for his original song “Be Real.”

“After all of the opportunities they opened up for me in this last year, the least I can do is come back whenever it makes sense to help out any way I can.”

After the first benefit concert, the band immediately started touring.  They performed on TV and radio and for venues all over Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Utah – reaching the ears of 13 million in their first week.

In between concerts, they flew to Nashville, Tenn., to film a Studio 330 session for http://www.cmt.com and audition with the Valory Music Co., which signed Reba McEntire.

So far, the band has toured with the likes of Blake Shelton – the CMA male vocalist of the year – as well as Luke Bryan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Pat Green, Jamie O’Neal and more.

With all the touring, McKinney had to resign as a math teacher at Kamiak.  He now has places in Washington, Tennessee and Utah, which alternate as his home whether he’s off or on tour.

“It’s been a little bit hectic,” McKinney said.  “I’ve been on the road quite a bit.”

Valory held onto McKinney’s signing rights until December – the company decided to sign Rascal Flatts instead of him – so now he’s back on the market, looking for a label.  McKinney said they’ve met with several other labels since then.

“There’s a bunch of labels out there,” he said.  “It’s just finding the right fit, I mean, who believes in what you’re doing, and we’ll see what shakes out.”

Since last February, the band has added 62 new and original songs to their repertoire.  They’ll be performing some of the new songs, some covers and some songs from their CD “Be Real” at the Feb. 11 concert.

Cartwright said the support from the Mukilteo community – and especially the Kamiak High School community – was instrumental in McKinney’s success.  The concert is an opportunity to see that success, she said.

“Just to see where he’s gone and where he’s going, and to be a part of that exciting ride,” she said.  “In less than a year, he’s gone from being a math teacher to touring nationwide.”

“We’re all a part of the history of the band.  I know that sounds corny, but it’s just been really neat.  I really think they’re going to go places.”

Advance tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults, and are available now. All tickets are $15 at the door. For tickets or more information, e-mail khs2011seniorparty@hotmail.com.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for concessions and raffles; the concert starts at 7 p.m.

Check out Chance McKinney at his Web site http://www.chancemkinney.com or follow him on Twitter @ChanceMcKinney.  Download the songs from his “Be Real” CD before the concert at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/be-real/id354579911.