By MATT CRANE
Thanks to a host of local musicians and an army of community volunteers, this weekend will see a lot of love poured onto a sweet, local family.
Over the Aug. 17-18 weekend, Rick’s Cafe will host the Hodgepodge Music Festival featuring 18 different musical acts all playing and singing to benefit Liam Hodge, the son of Ben and Selena Hodge.
Liam Hodge was born with 22q deletion syndrome, which means a piece of his 22nd chromosome is missing, making him susceptible to a variety of developmental problems as he gets older.
Selena Hodge said while her son has been laughing and smiling like any 4-month-old baby might, there is still concern looming over Liam’s Sept. 10 open heart surgery.
“Having set a date … makes it a lot more real and a lot scarier, but there has been some fantastic news recently,” Selena Hodge said. “Surgeons and cardiologists think they can correct all three heart defects in the same surgery instead of two separate surgeries.”
The Hodges both said they have been impressed by the staff at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital and are more prepared for some of the challenges they may face.
“His development is on track so far, and after meeting with the team of specialists … we feel better about potential problems in the future,” Selena Hodge said. “We left with a better idea of developmental milestones to watch for in the coming months.”
The Hodgepodge Music Festival marks the second benefit for Liam Hodge as “A Night for Liam” was held at Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern June 1 which featured a smaller roster of musicians.
Ben Hodge said he and his wife are still amazed by the turnout of that night and their early intervention specialist, Mr. Richard Davis, commented on the support of the music community.
“He made the great point that musicians, especially in a town like Starkville, are always going to be ready to rally around a friend in need,” Ben Hodge said. “We really and truly are blessed to have such a great group of friends and a great community looking out for our Liam.”
The Hodges said they are thankful for the help of so many community members including Bo Jeffaries and Hope Community Church handling donations on their behalf; Rick Welch for hosting the festival and producing the event’s T-shirts; J.D. McKay for running the sound for free during the event; Rob and Steve Snell for their work and donation of publicity materials; and Georgia Graham and Joe Whaley for spearheading the organization of the event.
Graham said she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support community members have shown to execute the festival.
“It seems like the whole city is coming out for this,” Graham said. “More than anything, it speaks to the type of people Ben and Selena are.”
Graham said along with two days of fantastic music, the Hodgepodge festival will a craft beer tasting and food vendors and tickets for the event are $5 for Friday, $7 for Saturday and $10 for a limited number of weekend passes still available.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to Liam,” Graham said. “We just want to get the word out, tell everyone you know and show up this weekend.”
Part of the events planned for the Hodgepodge Music Festival includes the release of an album recorded specifically for the festival with 17 tracks by local artists, a process which Whaley said produced a massive turn out of artists.
“Once we got the word out, we were flooded with requests to get on the album or perform at the festival,” Whaley said. “We had to turn people down at one point.”
Whaley said Mike Yeager used his personal home recording studio to record the album.
“It was great having everybody give as much as they do,” he said. “Everybody really showed up and gave us their A-game.”
The Hodges said they are experiencing the happiest times of their life so far with their baby boy, and are thankful for the time they have to think about what to tell Liam about all of this when he is older.
“As positive as we are most of the time, surgery and the thought of some of the problems he might have down the road scare us to death,” Selena Hodge said. “No matter what, we’ll tell him that his mommy and daddy and whole lot of other people loved him and did some wonderful things for him when he was a baby.”
The Hodgepodge Music Festival begins Friday and ends Saturday night. For more information, visit http://www.onesidedrecords.com .