Ann Wilson, Snuffy Walden hit Fillmore for Rock and Roll for Children benefit

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Rock & Roll For Children benefit (Jason Fraley)

WASHINGTON — Get ready for a night of great tunes, slick memorabilia and a great cause.

The Rock and Roll for Children Foundation hosts its annual bash this Saturday at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, raising money for the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health.

“By all means, be there,” founder Jon Belinkie told WTOP. “You have to get your Irish on somewhere, so you might as well be with us on St. Patrick’s Day — rocking out.”

Founded in 2004, the event has grown significantly since its humble beginnings.

“The first event was under a tent in my backyard and we just invited people to see if we could make this a viable enterprise,” Belinkie said with a nostalgic laugh. “Now we’re at The Fillmore, which holds over 1,000 people with rock ‘n roll icons that I grew up listening to.”

Headlining this year’s live concert is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ann Wilson of Heart.

“She is one of the hottest women rock vocalists out there,” Belinkie said. “Ann is coming out with a brand-new album that she’s just finished and this is the first time those songs are going to be played in a performance. She is [also] going to do some covers that are awesome. She brought down the house at the Kennedy Center with her cover of Led Zeppelin. I loved that.”

Joining her on stage will be “SNL” band member Christine Ohlman, Indie Music TV founder Chris Patti, local D.C. band The Peacemakers, singer-songwriter Sara Niemietz, and W.G. Snuffy Walden, who won an Emmy for composing the theme to TV’s “The West Wing.”

“This is my sixth year,” Walden told WTOP. “We came out one year [and] fell in love with the people, the community and the cause. … [It’s] about musicians getting together in different arrangements so it’s really a special night. It’s not a night that you can see anywhere else.”

In addition to the concert, there will be plenty of cool music memorabilia items to auction.

“The auction this year is truly outstanding with guitars signed by folks not with us anymore like Tom Petty, B.B. King or Prince,” Belinkie said. “The Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney.”

Walden will even auction off a special instrument as soon as he finishes on stage.

“I’m bringing out a Taylor guitar that was signed by Bob Taylor,” Walden said. “I’m going to be performing with it on stage, then we’re going to auction it off as soon as we’re done.”

“It just arrived today and I’m drooling over this guitar,” Belinkie said.

You can register to bid in the auction online. All proceeds go to the Children’s Inn at NIH.

“It’s a very special place right in the heart of our region,” Belinkie said. “The Children’s Inn helps kids who have reached the end of their treatment modalities, wherever they are. This is their last hope with some experimental things going on at NIH. Over 1,500 kids are served right now by the Children’s Inn from 96 countries. None of these kids have to pay and their families stay there. It’s a really, really special place. They can’t do it without our support.”

Find more details on the event website. Listen to our full chat with Belinkie and Walden below:

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Jon Belinkie & Snuffy Walden (Jason Fraley)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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