Sept. 11, 2001 is a day no one is soon to forget. Seeking to honor those lost on that day, Jake Serd, member of the band Degrade the Signal, wanted to start a music festival in their memory.
Serd, a veteran who was in active duty in the Air Force on 9/11, returned to the area and started his business Centrill 74 Entertainment, which helps promote bands. About five years ago, he came up with the idea to bring bands from near and far together to pay tribute to those lost on that day.
"We often hear the phrase 'never forget' around 9/11. What better way to 'never forget' than to pay tribute to all of those lost that day and 'Salute the Fallen?'" Serd said.
Over time, Salute to the Fallen Fest, which hosts local, regional, and national bands, has gained a climbing audience and has moved to a larger venue: the center at the Vermilion County Fairgrounds, just outside of Danville.
Planning for the festival takes time and effort, as it has Serd working to pick a date and venue, to locate sponsors to help cover various costs, to book bands and to promote the event.
This year, Salute to the Fallen Fest will showcase 12 bands — with an admission price of $10. Featuring three national acts this year, in addition to local groups that gather crowds, the festival is sure to draw rock music fans.
One local group making its way on stage this year is Verdict, which will play from 6:10 to 6:40 p.m.
The band formed in 2006 with a few friends, who met additional members through a musician classified website. After some changes in members since the early days, the current lineup includes Ted Agee on vocals, Tyler Cumpston and Josh Cruzan on guitar, Zakk Burke on drums and Joey Hotwick on bass.
Cumpston said Verdict's influences include Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Muse, Slipknot and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"We write all our own music. It usually starts with a guitar riff or an idea for what type of song we want to write. Then we build on the main idea," he said.
While some bands may breed drama, Verdict members are all close friends, and Cumpston explained being this way makes what they do as a group fun and rewarding.
"The most fun part about being a member of Verdict for me is being in a band with your best friends. Every practice, show and six-hour drive is full of laughs," he said. "Playing on stage is obviously a lot of fun, too."
Although Verdict performed in the past at Salute to the Fallen, this will be the first show with its new lineup.
"We've played this show in the past and the turnout has been great," Cumpston said. "It's always a fun event, and it's for a great cause.
"We are excited to see the new bands we haven't seen before, as well as friends from the local scene. We have all new songs and are very excited to play out again. Also, we are hoping for a guest appearance by South Korean rapper Psy."
Cumpston said Verdict hopes to play as many shows as possible and to write songs that "excite us every time we play them. The ultimate goal is making Verdict our day job."
As Verdict prepares for Salute to the Fallen Fest, Burke emphasized how much fun the band has by playing its music for others.
"As a group we couldn't be having a better time just kickin' out some jams. We're really excited to play out and share the new material with everyone," he said.
Salute to the Fallen Fest will open the doors at 1:30 p.m., and the music will run from 2 to 11:30 p.m. As this is a long run time, attendees can get a pass-out for free in order to see earlier shows and return later in the evening if they wish.
"You won't find a better bang for your buck," Serd said. "Twelve bands, including three national acts for just $10. You can get your tickets in advance at Chart Records in Danville or also pay at the door the day of the concert.
"Hopefully this event will encourage others to pledge a good deed, even if it's something as simple as walking up to a fireman, policeman, or military person and thanking them for their service. Personally, I never had to go to combat following 9/11, but this is my way of saying thank you to local heroes that did, such as Billy Unzicker and Jason Wills."
If you go
What: Salute to the Fallen Fest, 12 bands ranging from local to regional to national playing in honor of 9/11 victims
When: 2 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 (gates open at 1:30)
Where: Vermillion County Fairgrounds, 17520 N 1180 East Road, Oakwood (just outside of Danville)
Tickets: $10 (include a pass-out so attendees can leave and return to hear different acts)