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Firefly Music concert series to benefit UNG Blue Ridge scholarship fund

April 4, 2018

As a father of twin boys, Colby Balch discovered his trips to see his favorite musicians in Atlanta, Chattanooga and Nashville were going to be a thing of the past. So, the Blue Ridge, Georgia, resident decided to bring the musicians to him.

In 2016, the Firefly Music concert series was born. Balch offered musicians the chance to stay in a cabin in a small town, in exchange for an intimate concert for area residents. The bonus is the event raises money for area charities.

Firefly raised $15,000 in its first year and $35,000 in 2017 for area charitable organizations. This year's benefactor is the University of North Georgia (UNG) Blue Ridge scholarship fund, which is officially named the Georgia Mountain Opportunity Scholarship.

"To me, education is the absolute bedrock of the community," Balch said. "If people aren't educated, then everything else falls apart. Improving education improves all areas."

Students at UNG's Blue Ridge Campus will reap those rewards, as the concert funds will be donated directly to those who demonstrate a financial need, said Sandy Ott, director of the Blue Ridge Campus.

"During the upcoming year, we anticipate being able to donate more scholarship money because of Colby and the many supporters of Firefly generosity," she said. "These funds truly make a difference in the lives of students. This scholarship fund makes a difference for students, their family and this community."

Ott said she was excited by the opportunity of working with Balch and the Firefly Music series. In fact, UNG is one of the event's sponsors.

"We knew this would be a great partnership," Ott said. "I think it's an extraordinary opportunity. When you think about Firefly and its small, intimate venue to hear amazing artists, it's similar to the Blue Ridge Campus."

Ott explained audience members connect with artists during the concert since they are in a smaller venue in Blue Ridge versus a stadium in Atlanta.

"Our faculty and students have a similar connection in classroom because of the small size of the classes," she said.

The featured musician for the first show in this year's series is Glen Phillips, the award-winning lead singer of Toad The Wet Sprocket. The band rose to success with a string of high-ranking hits on the Billboard Rock and Top 40 charts, leading to several platinum-selling albums and an ardent fan base. Some of the band's hit songs include "All I Want" and "Walk on the Ocean."

Phillips followed his lead singer success with a solo career, earning distinction as a beloved storyteller and songwriter.

"Glen has a good voice and great personality," Balch said. "He will have a great intimate show, and I look forward to it."

The first concert of the series will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 22, at a private cabin in Blue Ridge. Doors open at 5 p.m. with seating available for about 100 people. Tickets cost $30 for general admissions and $75 for VIP with a meet-and-greet with the musical artist.

For more information on the concert, visit the Firefly Music website.

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