FOR FOUR years, The Rail Pub downtown has spearheaded a fundraising event that brings the community together through music. Railapalooza started as an idea helmed by Sean Moloney, who books shows at the pub.
This year’s festival promises to be bigger and better than before, with Ozzy Osbourne tribute artist Little Ozzy headlining alongside a lineup of top notch local bands including Ember City, Anders Thomsen Trio, and The Magic Rocks.
Ahead of the festival, taking place on Sat., August 31, we spoke to Moloney about what’s in store and why it’s important to support this year’s Railapalooza.
Tell me a bit about the history behind Railapalooza.
Moloney: This is the fourth annual festival, and I do all of the music booking at The Rail Pub. We’ve been there for 24 years, and we always do a lot of charity events. We did a dog adoption event there last month that was very successful. I’ve been in bands for years, so if I can incorporate rock and roll and charity at the same time then that’s awesome.
I’m originally from Detroit, and I’ve always worked with charity. I’ve always volunteered, even as a kid. The girls who own the Rail, they always do charity work. One night I was like, “Why don’t we do a music festival?”
The first three years of Railapalooza, we had six bands. People show up and have a day of local music and rock and roll. The first year, after cost, we raised $6k. A couple of years ago, we did it for bone and breast cancer. I had lost my mom in 2017—she had bone cancer for five years. That year, we raised money for research.
We also always do a lot of animal charities. Last year it was for the Humane Society and One Love, which is a pet adoption foundation. I love music, I’ve always been in bands, so if I can bring some rock and roll and raise money for charity at the same time, that’s what I love to do.
This year, you’ve got a really great lineup of local bands. There’s also a pretty significant headliner, right?
Moloney: This is the first year that we’re having a national act play. Our headliner is Little Ozzy, who’s an Ozzy Osbourne tribute act. He tours nationally, and Ozzy has been to a couple of his shows. He even played OzzFest over the last decade. There are three local bands playing as well. Doors open at 3, and then the first band goes on at 4. Little Ozzy plays at 8.
The first band is called Magic Rocks—they play around town a lot. They do a lot of 70s and 80s covers, and they’re really solid. The second band is the Anders Thomsen Trio, who are kind of like an outlaw country band. Anders, the lead singer and guitar player, also plays with Damon & the Shitkickers. The third band is Ember City—they play a lot of 90s to present day pop/rock songs. They’re really fun to watch.
What are some of the other activities happening at the festival?
Moloney: We have a silent auction going on, and there are a lot of really cool items. We have a Wild Turkey fire pit, and a lot of really fun things that were donated from liquor and beer reps. There’s a hot dog eating contest that we did last year. Our champion last year, Rob, is the general manager of Vinnie Van Go-Go’s. Last year, there were six guys that competed and they were all really big guys. Rob was the smallest guy out of the six and he beat them all, which is kind of funny. He’s coming back this year to defend his title [laughs].
What charities will you be supporting this year?
Moloney: One of them is called Dames for Danes. John, our general manager, got three Great Danes and two of them were from Dames for Danes. He wanted to support that.
We also have the SD Gunner Fund, who takes service dogs and puts them with special needs children. They’re also a veteran-based foundation. And the GA K9 Foundation takes ex-military and police dogs who are in need of foster care.
I think last year we raised just under $10,000 for our charities. This year our goal is at least $12,000. All of these bands have been helping us out by playing for free, and a lot of people have been buying tickets.
What is it about doing events like this that makes you keep doing it year after year?
Moloney: Things like this really make you feel solid. When I was cooking at a homeless shelter in my 20s, I did it once per month for about a year and a half. Some days, we only cooked food for 20 people and other days we did it for 200. It just made me feel really good that people got their bellies full. So if we can raise money for these charities, it makes you feel real solid.
People keep talking about it, and it’s starting to become a Savannah household name. There’s this couple that has been coming to the Rail for 15 years, and in the last six months they moved to Wichita, Kansas. They’re flying into Savannah just for this.
Moloney: They’d been to the first three, and the y made it a point to come to this festival from Kansas to support us.