Benefit concert aids owner

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    When one of the owners of Ridglea Theater was diagnosed with double pneumonia and other complications about eight weeks ago, a number of bands wanted to help pay the bills.So they did the natural thing. They scheduled a concert.

    The metal concert is Sept. 23, and doors open at 6 p.m.

    Band members from around the area think of Ridglea Theater as home, and husband-and-wife owners Wesley Hathaway and Richard Van Zandt as family, the owners said.

    Jeff Ogle of the band Lockjaw told Hathaway, “It’s like going to grandma’s house.”

    Hathaway said there are 16 bands playing on two stages, with groups LaME, Necrogazm and 3?4 Ton among the headliners.

    Ogle said when he found out about Van Zandt’s diagnosis, he got online and put posts on myspace.com. Ogle said he immediately had about 40 individuals who wanted to help and 40 to 50 bands that wanted to play in a benefit concert to help pay the medical bills.

    Hathaway and Van Zandt said they are in business for themselves, meaning they do not have the same advantages as big businesses. Hathaway said they do not have medical insurance, which resulted in the financial need.

    “The Ridglea has become a home to many bands,” Hathaway said. “They said, ‘You have been giving to us, and we want to give back.'”

    Ogle said Lockjaw gained a lot of fan base through Ridglea Theater. He said he has formed a good relationship with Hathaway and Van Zandt, so he wanted to give back.

    Lockjaw is unable to perform at the concert because they will be recording in the studio, Ogle said.

    Nonetheless, Ogle has taken a leading roll in coordinating the event.

    “It has been absolutely amazing and astonishing how people from bands and the audience have rushed in to assist us while Richard has been so ill,” Hathaway said.

    Hathaway and Van Zandt, who have owned Ridglea Theater for almost eight years, said the support has been more than they could have expected.

    “Wesley and Richard clean that place themselves,” Ogle said. “They need help.”

    Hathaway said band members and their families have come to help clean Ridglea Theater while her husband has been sick. She said some band members bring their children to help as well.

    “It takes fans and us all together to make it work,” Hathaway said.

    Ogle said Hathaway and Van Zandt have become like family to him.

    “As big and grand and beautiful as that place is, it is very mom and pop,” Ogle said. “That’s why the bands call it home.”

    Van Zandt said he doesn’t know everyone as well as his wife does because Hathaway is “the front person.”

    “When I was in the hospital they put it on their Web sites that Wesley needed help cleaning,” Van Zandt said. “They volunteered their time because we needed some help.”

    Several bands have given their money at the end of the night and said, “This is for Richard,” Van Zandt said.

    “There has been so much caring and so much love – it’s overwhelming,” Hathaway said. “We had no idea all these people felt this way about us.”

    While they appreciate all the help, Van Zandt said the concert and all of the assistance given by bands is about more than the financial need.

    “This whole benefit is not about the money to us,” Van Zandt said. “It’s about the expression of love.

    “I will be indebted to them forever.