CULTURE- BUZZ BOX Rock on: Hear great tunes, help sick kids

Christmas comes next month for UVA's Children's Medical Center, and Richelle Claiborne wants to do some serious damage as a rock and roll Santa Claus.

"Everyone's making babies. Why not support the hospital that's going to be there for you?" she laughs.

The annual telethon, the hospital's flagship fundraising event, happens June 3 and 4. Since 1985, the telethon has raised some $10 million to support the hospital. This year, Claiborne hopes to drop a little lovin' of her own into the pot: she's organizing the Rock For Kids concert series at the Outback Lodge, a set of shows featuring several local notables who have agreed to donate their art to the cause.

Every Friday in May, $8 at Outback will buy you an evening of great tunes and a warm fuzzy feeling inside. This week, it's Man Mountain Jr. with Beetnix and Osmotic. Ravens Place, Blur The Line, and Sparky's Flaw perform on May 19, and the final show features Under The Flood, Soul Sledge, and the long-awaited return of All of 15.

Everyone involved is donating their time and talents, from graphic designers and sound engineers to the musicians themselves. "When I talked to the Outback Lodge," recalls Claiborne, "they just said, 'How many Fridays do you want? Pick a month.'"

The Rock For Kids series joins the charity golf tournament hosted by WINA radio personality Mac McDonald every spring, and local Clear Channel radio stations usually host a radiothon donation drive in October. Claiborne wants Rock For Kids to take hold as well as those other events have, hopefully turning into an annual event.

But she'll have to draw a strong crowd in order for that to happen. It's a rare chance to buy some good karma; usually you have to earn it, and we all know what a hassle that can be.

Rock for Kids concerts happen every Friday in May at the Outback Lodge, 917 Preston Ave. $8, 10pm. 979-7211.