By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | December 4, 2021
Despite their multiplatinum successes, singers Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray and Collective Soul’s Ed Roland still have pinch-me moments.
Both cite the Alice Cooper’s 19th annual Christmas Pudding fundraiser as just that.
On Saturday, December 4, at the Celebrity Theatre, the two are slated to share a stage with Cooper, Ace Frehley, Tom Morello and Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals. Proceeds from the event benefit the free music, dance, arts and vocational programs for teens ages 12 to 20 at Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers.
“As always, Solid Rock is putting together a show with new and classic headliners,” Cooper says. “The uniqueness of this concert is that you’ll never see this caliber and variety of artists on the same stage again. Come join our ultimate Christmas party and help support the teens at The Rock Teen Center.”
It also includes performances from the Solid Rock Dancers; The Bucket Brigade; and the winners of this year’s Proof is in the Pudding Musical Talent Search, Cooper’s version of “American Idol.”
“What an honor it is to be part of Christmas Pudding,” Roland says. “I do two benefits a year in Georgia, and it worked out timewise that I could do this. But more importantly, Alice asked. If Alice asks, I shall do.”
Roland — whose band’s hits include “Shine” and “December” — met Cooper at this beginning of Collective Soul’s career.
“I was so taken aback by people actually showing up to our shows, much less Alice Cooper,” says Roland, who has three albums in the can. “I can remember playing his records. I’ve seen him once since that show. Now I’m a little more comfortable in my skin. I can open my mouth and say, ‘What’s going on?’
“The history that he brings and the love that he brings to his community I hope I can share with mine. We’re both PKs — preacher kids. We were doing some sort of webcast, me, Alice and Stephen King. We’re all PKs. Here I was with two of the scariest men on the planet.”
McGrath, on the other hand, is known for being one of the nicest. The “Fly” and “Every Morning” singer is “honored” to be a part of Christmas Pudding.
“He does such tremendous work for the community and teen centers,” he says. “He curates the (Christmas Pudding) lineup. He chooses you to perform. It’s amazing to still have these dream-come-true moments, playing with Ace Frehley, Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, Ed Roland and Tom Morello.
“I have to pinch myself, but at the same time, I’m helping others. It’s the perfect storm of giving back in the holiday season.”
For McGrath’s set, he’s planning to play the hits fans expect to hear as well as a few surprises.
“I’ll just play the songs that people have hopefully heard before and bring joy to the room and raise some money, man,” McGrath says.
Hailing from Newport Beach, California, McGrath is humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as his Christmas Pudding co-stars.
“They have had such incredible, hall-of-fame careers,” he says. “I never got to touch that rarified air. If they want me to carry the equipment, I will be happy to do that. If they want to jam, I’ll be more than honored.”
Alice Cooper’s 19th Annual Christmas Pudding
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, December 4
WHERE: Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix
COST: Tickets start at $35