Kappa’s country show benefits nonprofit

By Emily Canterna | @KyKernel

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Memorial Hall rang with the twang of country music on Friday as David Adam Byrnes and Brian Davis performed for hundreds of UK students during a benefit concert.

Kappa Kappa Gamma hosted the event to raise money for one of its philanthropies, Holly’s House.

Holly Dunn Pendleton, the co-founder of the nonprofit safe house for women of intimate crimes, was a member of the sorority when she attended UK in the 1990s.

She was inspired to start the house after surviving an attack by the notorious “Railroad Killer.” The house allows victims of intimate crimes to share their stories in a non-intimidating environment.

All of ticket sales from the event, called Kappa Kappa Jamma, went to Holly’s House.

“I think it benefited our philanthropy by spreading the word about Holly’s House and proving that disasters can happen to anyone, including people our age,” said Maureen Neal, the Kappa Kappa Gamma philanthropy chair and co-coordinator of the event.

Byrnes opened the concert with songs from his latest album, including “Sweet Distraction” and “She Only Wanted Flowers.”

“I love it, and I wouldn’t trade it for a day,” Byrnes said of traveling around the country to perform.

Students and other audience members gathered at the foot of the stage as Davis opened with a high-energy performance of “Pull Up A Tailgate.”

Davis took requests from the crowd and performed acoustic covers of Blake Shelton’s “Sure Be Cool If You Did” and Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” a crowd favorite.

“Something about music, to me, was an outlet early on,” Davis said. “It kind of escalated to a point of playing in arenas and things like this.”

For Davis, performing is just half of the job. He greeted concertgoers after the show, taking pictures and talking to anyone who wanted to meet the rising country star.

Davis commented on the traditional “Meet and Drink” that he hosts before his concerts, which includes inviting fans onto his tour bus to have a drink with him and band members before each show.

“Fans come up on the bus and hang out with us,” Davis said. “They wind up being some of the most fun we have.”

This is the first time Kappa Kappa Gamma has put on a concert to raise money for Holly’s House. Normally the sorority hosts a 5K race.

“I think that it went really well, especially for its first year,” Neal said. “I really hope that it could continue to grow in the future.”

“I was really impressed by both artists,” said Liz Johnson, a Kappa Kappa Gamma sophomore. “They were really talented and I can’t wait to see him (Davis) next weekend at Auburn.”

Country fans can catch Davis as he opens for Brantley Gilbert during the Hell On Wheels tour. The tour stopped at UK in October.