The Republican National Convention got underway Sunday night with a private party at Jacobs Pavilion.  Delegates, convention attendees and local veterans got to see the Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd perform great sets of funky R&B and classic rock.  

The concert was a part of the “Cleveland Rocks 2016” campaign and was sponsored by the following non-profit organizations:  Guardian for Heroes, the Green Beret Foundation, Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial, the Folded Flag Foundation,  Legacy of Valor Endowment and SRT K9.  

Upon entering the venue concertgoers could bid on many high-end items that included autographed memorabilia from sports, entertainment and political celebrities such as Slash, Urban Meyer and even Donald Trump himself.  100% of the proceeds were going to be divided up between the sponsoring non-profit organizations.

Tables were also set up so people could get more information about each organization and what they do.  Before the concert, representatives from three of the organizations spoke of their mission statements.  Andrew Brennan, the founder of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation, spoke on signing a petition and writing/texting your representative to waive the ten-year waiting period to get their memorial built in Washington DC.

The next speaker was Michael Rodriquez, the Chief Ambassador of the Green Beret Foundation which is an organization that has helped over 800 Green Berets with casualty care, extended care, family care and transitioning back into civilian life.

Jeff Kyle, the Board President of Guardian for Heroes Foundation, and brother Chris Kyle, the founder of the organization, spoke about how the Guardian for Heroes Foundation provides home health care equipment or gym memberships to those veterans who want to get back into shape.  

Finally, there was a live auction for two autographed guitars from Lynyrd Skynyrd and a VIP trip to New York for Tony Bennett’s 90th Birthday Bash.  Those three items alone raised over $18,000 for those charities.

The Robert Randolph and Family Band hit the stage with their brand of funk and soul.  Robert is a master on the steel guitar and showcased his skills during their 45-minute set.  The band played several originals and did a great cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”.  

Southern Rock favorites and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Lynyrd Skynyrd opened their show with the classic rock staple “What’s Your Name” and they never slowed down.  

The band played hit after hit that included: “You Got That Right,” “Saturday Night Special” and “Simple Man.”  They even paid tribute to Merle Haggard by playing “Honkey Tonk Night Time Man.”  

Several times throughout the show, singer Johnny Van Zandt mentioned that they support all of our troops, service men & women and first responders.  He also mentioned that he believed that Donald Trump could bring this country together, which brought a huge applause from this mostly conservative crowd.

Their 75-minute set ended with the familiar sounds of their two biggest hits: “Sweet Home Alabama” and of course “Free Bird.”