Du Quoin's Keenan Rice is a master showman.
Now in his sixth year fronting popular Perry County band We Got It Covered, Rice has developed a rock-solid reputation for whipping an audience into a frenzy with nearly every rousing customized country and classic rock tune unleashed by the four-piece band.
The same adrenaline rushes thorough his veins at most performances, as he either tries to make the bride and her mother happy playing wedding receptions or draws a big enough crowd to satisfy club owners and festival organizers.
We Got It Covered will be featured at an event with a totally different vibe at 8 p.m. Saturday, when it takes the stage for the Kickass Benefit For This Able Veteran at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall.
“This is something that you automatically feel good about,” Rice said, during a brief timeout from a Fourth of July cookout and family vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. “Every dime that is being raised is going to be used to help a military veteran from our area. There are no hidden costs or administrative fees. This is about helping folks in Southern Illinois.”
This Able Veteran is a Carbondale-based organization that provides professionally trained service dogs free of charge to military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Kickass Benefit originated three years ago, the brainchild of Julie Hoskins, a certified occupational therapy assistant at Marshall Browning Hospital.
Hoskins says it costs $25,000 to breed, raise and train a dog for 18 months, then complete a three-week Trauma Resiliency Program that connects the dog with the veteran.
“They are doing some amazing things,” Hoskins says. “The miracles these service dogs work in the life of veterans are unbelievable. We will have veterans at the fundraiser that will testify to the benefits of the program.”
Behesha Doan, a licensed professional trainer of multiple law enforcement K-9 programs, is the founder and training director of This Able Veteran.
The fundraiser kicks off at 4:30 p.m. with a home-style dinner of either smoked chicken prepared by the Perry Country Marketplace or Tracy Benton's pulled pork. Tickets are $20, which includes the meal and entertainment.
Those wishing to skip the meal can purchase a We Got It Covered concert ticket for $10.
“I know 10 bucks sounds high for a cover charge, but you have to remember this is a benefit for a wonderful cause,” Rice says. “You don't have to worry about rain and heat, either. This is inside and air-conditioned.”
Those planning to attend are urged to purchase tickets in advance to give organizers an idea of how much food to prepare. Topping off the feast, the Trish Bakery & Grill will be serving its famous cinnamon rolls for an additional fee, which will be donated to the charity.
Hoskins says many local businesses have donated items for a massive silent auction. The gift baskets, massages, gift cards, landscape stones and other items can be bid on from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., then winners will be announced during a special program that will give attendees a brief history of the organization.
Dogs currently being trained for the program and veterans that have received service dogs through the program will be on hand to meet with the public.
For more information and last-minute details about the event, Hoskins recommends searching Kickass Benefit for This Able Veteran on Facebook.
Members of We Got It Covered include: Bob Marlow, DeSoto, lead guitar; Trey Ford, Du Quoin, drums; Bob Priebe, Campbell Hill, bass guitar and Rice.
“Trey and I have been together since day one with We Got It Covered. The band now has over 100 years of combined experience. We are all good friends and have a great time every time we take the stage,” Rice says. “Music is a nonstop learning process. I watched a band the other night in a tiki hut down on the beach and picked up a few things I plan on working into the show.”
Two up-and-coming Nashville stars, Drew Baldridge of Patoka and Amelia Hope Eisenhauer of Du Quoin, are former members of We Got It Covered.
Baldridge turned heads last year with single “Dance With Ya” and followed up with “Rebound,” which has over 1 million YouTube views. He drew over 5,000 fans at a recent show in Carlyle and last week played the Grand Ole Opry and opened for Colt Ford. He will perform at the Du Quoin State Fair on Aug. 29 with Granger Smith.
Eisenhauer is an elite fiddler player and emerging vocalist. She won the Texaco Country Showdown at Herrinfesta Italiana in 2012 and 2013, then soared into the top 24 of "American Idol" last year. Her new band, Amelia Eisenhauer & The Peruvian Farm Girls, played recently at the Hard Rock Cafe on historic Beale Street in Memphis.