Home Local News Rockin’ for Veterans returns to Rockingham VFW for fifth year

Rockin’ for Veterans returns to Rockingham VFW for fifth year

Hardwired's Philip Neal, right, cheers on the Ponder Project at the 2019 Rockin' for Veterans.
William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Five Sandhills-area bands will take the stage at VFW Post 4203 this weekend for a concert to raise money to help those who have or are currently serving in the armed forces.

The annual Rockin’ for Veterans event, hosted by the local VFW Auxiliary, returns this year after being canceled in 2020 due to government regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concert is usually held in September, but the 2018 show was postponed until November because of Hurricane Florence.

Auxiliary President Robin Roberts said proceeds will go toward care packages for deployed troops and to help any Richmond County veteran in need.

In addition to the music, Boan Smokin’ BBQ will be on site selling plates.

Most of the bands are no stranger to the annual concert, having each performed three of the four years.

Hardwired — featuring Richmond County natives Phillip Neal on guitar and Bub Barrett on bass and Anson County’s Mark McRae on drums, all splitting vocals — played the first Rockin’ for Veterans in 2016 and also played in 2017 and 2019.

“All of the members of the band’s fathers and many of our friends have served and we deeply appreciate their service,” Neal told the RO in 2019. 

“My father (the late Dr. John William Neal) was in World War II, which to me is still the greatest generation but all that have served honorably are probably deserving of that status,” he added. “I thank God everyday for the men and women of our military who protect our freedoms and if we can make a small difference by providing some good old rock ‘n’ roll, we are in.”

The Safety Committee — Chuck Smith on guitar, Patrick Razon on bass, Mervyn Celso on guitar and keyboard and Eddie Brown on drums, all on vocals — has played the last three shows.

While the Ponder Project is playing for the second time with the current name and lineup, the band played the first show with late guitarist Tommy Adiemy and recently retired drummer Shot Allen. 


The current incarnation is comprised of John Baker on guitar, Jason Singleton on bass, Anakin White on drums, and Kevin Butler and Billie Adiemy on vocals, and has headlined the past two years.

Longtime Ponder production guru Bobby Pearce will be running sound and lights for the entire show and has each year.

Baker will be the only musician to play all five shows, performing the first two years with The Way She Goes. Singleton also played in that band the second year and Butler was with Mother Reign in 2016 (and joined Hardwired for a song or two in 2017).

Moore County’s Jeremy Robinson will be performing with his new band Avenue 133. Robinson played in 2017 with Moonlight Shiners and 2018 with August Burning.

New to the bill this year is Aftermath, featuring Franklin Branch on vocals, Jeremy Wright and Matthew Davis on guitar, Jerry Davis on drums and Brian Carter on bass.

Guitarist Jonathan Robinson, who played 2017-2019, was slated to be a guest but has a scheduling conflict.

There will, however, be a guest appearance by Marina Sol.

The music starts at 4 p.m. and a $10 donation will be accepted at the door.

(Updated to include Bobby Pearce. 2:02 p.m. 9-16-21 

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.