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Local musical acts band together to assist man fallen on hard times


Last Friday night, at The Smoking Moose Saloon in Anniston, a group of friends banded together for a benefit concert, to help out a friend in need.

Anniston-based jam-band Gypsy Begonias was one of five local acts that performed last Friday night at the benefit show at The Smoking Moose on behalf of Oxford High School graduate Mark Stephens.

Mark O’Hara Stephens, 29, is an Oxford High School alumnus. His friends describe him as a “very special person and a great friend.” People remember him for managing the basketball and football teams at Oxford and for being a truly genuine friend to everyone he meets.

Stephens has fallen on hard times recently, with the loss of his stepfather to cancer a few years ago, followed by the loss of his mother this Christmas. He is now left with bills to pay and not much of a means to make those payments.

It was Stephens’ friend Tyler Bohannon who decided that something needed to be done. “He has never had a bill to pay in his life so I put the show together to help him get on his feet,” said Bohannon.

He got in contact with some local bands in the area and The Smoking Moose Saloon, and the event was a go.

They decided to charge a $10 cover fee, with all proceeds going to a bank account set up in Mark’s name.

The show started at 8:30 and featured many artists and bands from around the area, such as Matt Owens, Gypsy Begonias, Stomp Roger, First Right Theft, and Beach Party(!).

A couple of the bands even include members who are students here. JSU’s very own Kyle Pritchett is the guitarist for the band First Right Theft, and Matt Blaskowski plays guitar for Beach Party(!).

The show started at 8:30 and it wasn’t long before the entire bar was filled with Mark’s buddies, friends of the bands, and people from around the area who wanted to support the cause.

JSU senior Kirstie Gilmore attended the event and was moved by the experience. “It was good to see so many people get together to help out a member of their community,” said Gilmore. “Mark even made it a point to introduce himself to everyone and to thank them for coming to the show. I thought that was really cool.”

The event ended up raising $4,600. Bohannon and Stephens were extremely grateful:“Thanks again to all the bands and the Moose. We really did a good thing for a great person. And, thanks everyone for coming out!”

Everyone was more than happy to support such a worthwhile cause.

Bohannon has decided to keep the bank account for Stephens open for at least another month, so that people who could not make it to the show but want to donate can do so. For information on how you can donate, contact Tyler Bohannon at (256)689-9068, or you can contact him on Facebook.

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