Storytelling musician’s concert helps cerebral palsy patients

Country musician Radney Foster is scheduled to perform in RIo Rancho as a benefit concert for the New Mexico Elks Association Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

A country music star is playing in Rio Rancho for a concert that raises money for people with cerebral palsy.

Singer, songwriter and author Radney Foster is scheduled to play Nov. 3 at the Rio Rancho High School Performing Arts Center. Doors open at 5 p.m., the concert starts at 6:30 and a small meet-and-greet follows the performance.

The New Mexico Elks Association arranged the concert to raise funds for its major state project, helping anyone with cerebral palsy in New Mexico or El Paso County, Texas, said NMEA Cerebral Palsy chairman Lee Morris of Las Cruces. Once concert expenses are paid, all proceeds from the $60 tickets go to the cerebral palsy foundation.

Foster said he and his guitar player, Eddie Heinzelman, would play hits such as “Nobody Wins,” “Just Call Me Lonesome” and “Crazy Over You.”

His latest project, a record with 10 songs and a book with 10 corresponding short stories, is also part of the plan for the show. Foster said he’d play a couple of songs from “For You to See the Stars” and read excerpts from the corresponding stories.

Foster, a native of the small town of Del Rio, Texas, moved to Nashville to pursue his music career in 1980 and performed his first hit single in 1986.

“I’m fortunate,” he said of his continuing career. “It’s a young man’s game, but for some reason, they let me do it.”

Foster said he’s too stubborn to do anything else and he loves storytelling.

That affection for telling stories pushed him to expand, he said. He took acting lessons, held the lead role in the premiere of the play “Troubadour” and appears in the film “Beauty Mark.”

“For You to See the Stars” gained its unique shape from a bout of pneumonia and resulting six weeks with little or no ability to speak or sing.

“That’s kind of an existential crisis for a guy like me,” Foster said.

Half-way through the situation, he wrote his wife a note, saying he thought he should write a short story about a song he wrote three weeks before. His wife wrote back that he should because he was driving her crazy.

“I wish I still had that piece of paper,” Foster said.

When his wife, who has worked as a journalist and editor, read his story, she encouraged him to keep writing. With “For You to See the Stars,” Foster said, the short stories expand on the songs or provide a prequel to them.

For instance, the last song starts with kids swimming after high school graduation and follows them for 15 years. The accompanying story tells about their senior year.

“You write what you know,” Foster said, adding that his ideas may come from talking with friends and family or reading. “Anything can be fodder for a song.”

Morris said his committee booked Foster because his price fit their budget and an Elks member said he gave a “wonderful acoustic concert” at a Raton festival. The benefit concert is the first the committee has arranged.

The only qualifications to get help from the Elks’ cerebral palsy foundation are having the condition and living in geographical area.

“You just have to fill out an application and we will help you in any way we possibly can,” Morris said.

He hopes the concert will expand the association’s resources to help more people.

Foster said he has played in New Mexico before, as well as often driving through on vacation as a boy and fly-fishing in the state for years.

He encouraged people to come to the concert.

“It’s for a good cause and we’ll have a lot of fun, I promise,” Foster said.

If you go

What: Radney Foster benefit concert for the New Mexico Elks Association Cerebral Palsy Commission

When: Nov. 3; doors open at 5 p.m., concert starts at 6:30.

Where: Rio Rancho High School Performing Arts Center, 301 Loma Colorado Blvd.

Cost: $60 per person. Elks members can get VIP tickets for $75 per person.

To purchase: Call Lee Morris at 575-640-7060. Tickets will also be available at the door if any are left.