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Jamming for charity

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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“A righteous task.” That’s what Peter Fontanese called the effort to transform Vail Jam ’08 from a good idea into a reality. His labor of love will culminate Monday night when more than 40 local musicians come together on one stage at the Marriot Grand Ballroom in Vail. All proceeds will go to the Colorado chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping children with life-threatening illnesses. Fontanese said he hopes to raise at least $50,000.

Fontanese, an Avon resident and bass player for Don Watson and The Vail Valley Band, will perform Monday night along with many of his friends and fellow musicians. Other acts include local bands The Bob Finnie Band, The Kathy Marrow Band and The Resonators.

Even though the event is heavily coordinated to keep from running over the allotted time slot and allow every musician on the roster to get a chance to play, Fontanese said the audience can expect a lot of impromptu jamming between many of the artists. He called it “a very well-structured free-for-all.” And bringing the valley’s musical community together for such a worthy cause benefits everyone involved; the artists get to play, the audience is entertained and the charity is supported.

“I’ve lived in Vail for 25 years and raised my children here and had an extraordinarily good experience. This valley, this state, this country, this world, this universe has been very good to me. There’s no reason not to give something back,” Fontanese said.

This is not the first Vail Jam, however. It was an annual event for a decade beginning in the late ’80s until it became defunct in the late ’90s. It started as an end of the ski season celebration for the town but then grew into a partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Shannon Tanner calls South Carolina home but spends his winters in the valley playing the apres-ski scene at McCoys in Beaver Creek. Tanner, along with fellow musicians George Hilliard and Rod Powell, came up with the Vail Jam concept almost 20 years ago and is thrilled with its resurrection. He will be playing guitar Monday night alongside some of his best friends, including Fontanese.

“There’s a million worthy causes here now in Vail to be honest with you, but at the time that seemed like the best one to do,” Tanner said. He sees no reason to change the beneficiary as he believes in the good work the Make-A-Wish Foundation does on behalf of kids.

Besides all the live entertainment, those in attendance will be able to participate in a silent auction to raise more money for the charity. Items up for grabs range from gift certificates to local establishments, ski-clothing and vacation packages.

Patti Murphy is the director of events and promotions for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado. She recalled the previous efforts of Vail Jam and all those involved.

“When it was going on before it was one of our largest fund-raisers for a one-night event,” Murphy said.

She has been typing up bid sheets for the auction and will also be helping out at Monday night’s concert along with much of her staff. More than willing to give her time, Murphy said it’s fantastic that the Vail Jam fundraiser is making a comeback.

“We expect to grant at least 10 wishes with this event,” Murphy said.

So, any plans to bring Vail Jam back on an annual basis? Fontanese says that’s something he can’t guarantee.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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