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Of the Oakland Press

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Fair warning to those attending this weekend’s Stars Guitars benefit: REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin plans to drag as much money out of you as possible.

Cronin and company headline the annual fundraiser for the Charles A. Main, M.D. Pediatric Cancer Survivor Scholarship Fund of Beaumont Hospitals. The auction will feature autographed items from the likes of Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Journey, the Jonas Brothers, LeBron James, the late Les Paul and others, and the REO frontman is taking some responsibility to make sure each sells for a tidy sum.

“I’m gonna get out there and probably do my best auctioneer thing,” says Cronin, who did the very same thing at a fundraising auction for his childrens’ school in California. “One of the items was a guitar signed by all four members of U2. The auctioneer got it up to about $2,250, and I’m like, ‘This is a nice neighborhood. These people can afford more,’ so I got out there and, I’m not exaggerating, we ended up getting $82,500 for that guitar.

“I know how to dig into pockets, y’know? I’ll see if I can goose things up there, too.”

REO also will give the $75-a-head crowd a show full of hits such as “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” “Roll With the Changes,” “Keep on Loving You” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” but the group will have a new album to promote next week, when it releases a Christmas album titled “Not So Silent Night.”

“We wanted to try and take these classic Christmas songs and arrange them in a way that it felt like an REO Speedwagon record, and I think we did,” Cronin explains. “What started out as kind of a little side project, something we would do for our kids, ended up being something where we really had to stretch musically, and it was really rewarding, artistically, to finish this record.”

The album has a charity component, too; REO will donate its royalties from “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” to the John Lennon Foundation that assists young and aspiring songwriters.

REO Speedwagon performs at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 24) at this year’s Stars Guitars fundraising benefit for the Charles A. Main, M.D. Pediatric Cancer Survivor Scholarship Fund of Beaumont Hospitals. The event is at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. Call (248) 551-9887 or visit www.starsguitars.org.

Web Site: www.starsguitars.org

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