A Denver, Colo., band that is hitting the country music charts will put on a benefit concert in Great Bend next month for the Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation.
The Kory Brunson Band, led by former Great Bend resident Brunson, will appear at the Crest Theater on Jan. 12. Proceeds will go to the nonprofit organization that helps Barton County families of children who have cancer.
The Colorado Country Music Association named Brunson the 2006 Male Vocalist of the Year, and "Hard Country," the band’s debut album released this year, has received radio airplay. Two singles, the military tribute "We Know You’re Out There" and the fun song "Girls Night Out," have hit the Top 100 on national country music charts.
Although he was born in Salina, Brunson claims Great Bend as his home town.
"I grew up in Great Bend," Brunson said. "I used to play basketball in the rec center." His family moved to Colorado in 1988, but Brunson didn’t forget his home town. "I always wanted to come back to Great Bend and do a show some day," he said.
With an upcoming concert planned in St. Louis, Mo., Brunson decided to see if he could plan a show in Great Bend around the same time. He searched the Internet and found Kans For Kids (www.kans4kidsfoundation.org) through a video on You Tube. The organization didn’t exist in the 1980s when Brunson lived here, but when he learned more about Kans for Kids he contacted Debbie Reif and offered the band’s services.
"It was a pleasant surprise," Reif said.
Brunson then found the Crest Theater and got Eagle Country 100.7 FM involved as a sponsor, so that 100 percent of ticket sales would go Kans For Kids. Tickets for the 7 p.m. concert are $8, available at Eagle Radio and Waters True Value Hardware in Great Bend, Town & Country Market in Hoisington, Bailey’s Food Bin in Claflin and Ellinwood Family Foods. The day of the concert, tickets will cost $12.
"That’s a great thing they’re doing, helping kids with cancer," Brunson said. "I’ve got two kids of my own and couldn’t imagine what that would be like."
Some of Brunson’s early musical memories are from his time in Great Bend. For three years he sang in the choir at Roosevelt Junior High School, where a new music instructor, Susan Richter, was starting her teaching career. Years later, when he decided to get serious about a music career, Brunson thanked Ms. Richter (now Stambaugh, and now teaching vocal music at Great Bend High School), in the liner notes of his first album.
"I knew he was a very talented young man back then," said Stambaugh, who also remembers her former student Brunson as polite and respectful. He is one of several former students who now have musical careers.
It didn’t happen right away, in Brunson’s case. He worked in sales and later opened his own insurance company. He did have friends in the music business, and a trip to New York to hang out with members of the band Telsa (a favorite of his wife of 16 years) led to the launching of his own musical career. It was after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, so the Brunsons also paid a visit to Ground Zero. The emotion Kory felt at there led him to think about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
"I don’t mind being in insurance, but that’s not what I’m here for," Brunson said.