Guitar Masters rallied up community members to donate $47,000 last year for its annual Christmas concert for Kern County cancer patients. This year, they hope to raise more money to continue making a difference.
Guitar Masters presents Christmas with The Cranktones for its fifth year at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. Christmas with The Cranktones is an annual fundraiser that raises money for the Kern County Cancer Fund.
Before starting the event in 2015, Rick Kreiser came in contact with Carl Verheyen, a guitarist in a band called Supertramp. After Verheyen did a show in 2014, he and Kreiser hit it off and wanted to continue working together.
Verheyen lured Kreiser to a show in Studio City where he met The Cranktones, a band of close friends who are all studio musicians. Verheyen, Craig Copeland, Jim Cox, Chad Wackerman, John Ferraro and Tom Child make up The Cranktones.
Kreiser convinced Verheyen and his close friends to come to Bakersfield to put on a show for his hometown.
“We’ll have a Christmas show and it morphed into this thing. And then I thought we ought to help somebody during Christmas,” said Kreiser.
In 2015, Kreiser wanted to get involved with the Kern County Cancer Fund while still putting on a show for locals, morphing this idea of helping people with their cancer journey.
Kreiser mentions his own personal cancer road and how it was never him being a survivor or a patient but a caregiver and friend to his loved ones, like his wife, son, niece and business partner.
“Back when we started this, The Cranktones was originally just about the music but when we felt like we needed to make an impact, particularly around the holidays – that’s when it became a benefit show,” he said.
Kreiser wanted to be able to positively impact lives and support the Bakersfield community as a business person and member of the community.
“While I do support other organizations, this is a problem that doesn’t go away locally. By helping the Kern County Cancer Fund, we can make a bigger impact because it all goes directly to Kern County patients on a needs basis,” he said.
Throughout the years, they were able to donate $125,000 to the organization.
With this being Guitar Masters’ fifth year putting on its annual Christmas show, they hope to raise $50,000 with the community behind them.
All proceeds from the event will be directly donated to the Kern County Cancer Fund, where profits aid Kern County residents when they can’t afford treatment. Kreiser is also doing something different in regard to raising money this year. Admission is a $50 minimum donation but people can choose to donate more and the money goes directly to the Kern County Cancer Fund.
The money helps cancer patients access treatments, diagnosis and aid their co-pay as long as they live in the county. Kreiser wants people to have the opportunity to access treatment anywhere they go. Kreiser also said it feels good to help people who aren’t fortunate enough to access the aid they need to access treatments.
“It could be your friends next time. We shouldn’t have to make those choices, but some do,” he said.
Christmas with The Cranktones will be held at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace on Dec. 12.
“It’s a high-energy show and (The Cranktones) have a hell of a time. They love playing with each other and the Palace has so much soul,” said Kreiser. “What’s special about it is the whole night is meaningful and celebratory; those guys just love coming here and playing for Bakersfield fans.” ￼