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Arndt: Playing for charity is the best feeling in the world


KGGO’s Southern Fried Christmas is Saturday, Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. Molly Hatchet, Whippin’ Jr and Richard Arndt perform.

KGGO’s Southern Fried Christmas is Saturday, Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. Molly Hatchet, Whippin’ Jr and Richard Arndt perform.

On Saturday, Dec. 22, 7 Flags Events Center and KGGO are doing their part to help some of Iowa’s underprivileged families via a Southern Fried Christmas concert. For central Iowa residents, the event will be a rare chance to catch southern rock icon Molly Hatchet, which has come to town to help raise money for Children and Families of Iowa. Sharing the stage with them, however, will be a face that’s very familiar to people around the capital city: Richard Arndt.

Not only is Arndt one of the finest professional musicians the city has to offer, but his gracious spirit and willingness to help others has made him a regular feature for musical fundraisers around town.

“Any charity that comes to me I’ve done,” Arndt said during an interview at Saints in Beaverdale. “Operation Homefront, Wounded Warriors, breast cancer is a big one — any kind of cancer, really.

“It’s important to me,” he continued. “People call me and ask if I’d be willing to play a set, and it’s hard to say no. It’s great that they want to hear me, and if they think that’s going to bring people out and raise money, I’m happy to do it.”

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People do indeed want to hear him. Playing all over central Iowa, Arndt logs about 100 shows a year in addition to the litany of charities and benefits he helps for free when asked.                

“There was one (charity) that tried to pay me, and I gave it back,” he said. “I kept a little gas money because they were insistent. If it’s for a charity, getting paid doesn’t feel right. They’re trying to raise money for something, and for me to take from that doesn’t feel right. It’s a service.”

Performing for charity, helping to raise money for people who are underprivileged or suffering from some medical malady as often as Arndt does, is something that would help most anyone maintain perspective on life. But Arndt also had his own near-miss with tragedy, which only serves to strengthen his desire to help others.                

“(Doctors) found a couple of tumors on my vocal folds,” he recalled. “(What) they thought was one, turned out to be two. They were both benign — thank God. They cut them out and told me to shut up for a while. I couldn’t talk at all for a week. I got very good at texting and writing on dry erase boards. (The whole recovery) was roughly a month.”                

Now he’s fully healed and says his voice is better than ever — and he’s excited to share the stage with Molly Hatchet and to play for charity once again.                

“Everyone over at KGGO is great,” he said. “Clutch deserves so much credit for this. And thanks to Chris Cardani at 7 Flags for helping to put (the show) together.               

“Molly Hatchet is right up there with Skynyrd for southern rock,” he continued. “It’s a dream come true. If you’d have told me that I’d be on stage with them when I was 14 years old, I’d have called you a liar. Especially playing alone.”                

Arndt’s dream comes true this weekend. And with his help — along with KGGO, Cardani Productions, Des Moines band Whippin’ Jr and Molly Hatchet — some needy families in central Iowa will be able to dream a little bigger. And for Arndt, as always, playing for charity is its own reward.                

“It’s like a drug,” he said. “If people like it, it’s the best feeling in the world.” CV

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