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Celebrate recovery

Band reunites for cancer benefit concert to give thanks to supporters

Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 21:10



Kris Arnold, Class of 1997 and bassist for Haywood, will play at The Grand Stafford on Friday.

In the fall of 1996, a group of five Aggies formed what became one of the most popular student bands in College Station — Haywood.

Nearly two decades later, four of the five former students reunited to arrange two benefit concerts — the second of which will take place Friday as the band returns to the area to perform at the Grand Stafford theater in Downtown Bryan.

The proceeds from the concert will benefit Survivor Summit, an event that partners with the LIVESTRONG foundation to allow individuals to raise funds and awareness for cancer research and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The money raised will be applied to the $20,000 individual goal of Stephen Sandlin, Class of 1996 and band member, and his wife Bree, Class of 1997.

The Sandlins will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with Survivor Summit in February 2014 to recognize the support their family received during Bree’s fight with cancer and celebrate her remission.

“It really does feel like a celebration that we came through all the stuff that we did,” Stephen said. “We’d like to enjoy that with our friends and everyone else. A lot of this is just really about Bree and I saying thank you.”

Stephen said the last time Haywood performed together was for the 50th anniversary of Fish Camp in 2004.

Brandon Elam, Class of 1997 and band member, said he is anticipating an energetic performance on Friday.

“It feels like we’re going to play another show, just like it was yesterday,” Elam said. “I think what is cool about the show is picking out our favorites and picking out the ones we know the crowd loved. It’s almost like a ‘Haywood’s greatest hits’ kind of show.”

During the band’s time at A&M, Haywood made its mark on Bryan-College Station by playing shows on and off campus, gaining popularity with their original lyrics and engaging performances.

“We wanted to be fun and just really for people to have a good time,” Sandlin said. “And it turned out to not be too serious — basically just not to take ourselves too seriously.”

All of the band members were invested in different facets of student life at A&M, as Haywood boasted representatives from organizations such as Town Hall, Fish Camp and MSC Hospitality. These campus ties helped the band land its Bryan venue, as Jose Arredondo, former member of Town Hall and managing partner with the Grand Stafford Theater, said the “Town Hall network” helped Haywood contact and secure the theater for a performance.

“When I heard about them — that they were old Ags — that they used to be in Town Hall and I thought, ‘This would be the perfect venue for you to come back,’” said Arredondo, Class of 2011. “I just thought it was kind of fate.”

Kris Arnold, Class of 1997 and band member, said some of the best parts of Haywood were the band members’ friendships and the “party atmosphere” the shows created throughout the audience.

“Being able to get that back together and come back to College Station and do another show like that is pretty exciting,” Arnold said.

Elam said the band could have held a reunion concert for a number of reasons, but he was glad that the concert was being held under celebratory circumstances.

“We always said we would pick a special situation to bring us back together and do a show,” Elam said. “We always kind of joked about it. This is a great reason to get back together and one I’m excited about.” 

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