Phil and Jessica Long raise over $10,000 with concerts for a cause from their basement
Next performance is Friday at 5 p.m. on the Vail Chophouse Facebook page
For decades, longtime local musician and restaurant owner Phil Long has been entertaining crowds in Vail, asking après skiers to throw money at him and his tip jar. These days, along with his daughter Jessica, Phil is performing on Facebook Live and asking his online audience of thousands to throw money at COVID-19 relief funds.
“We were so lucky,” Phil said of the first two fundraising concerts online. “The first week we made around $6,000, and then this past week we reached almost $12,000.”
The next performance is Friday at 5 p.m. and will be hosted by the Vail Chophouse Facebook page and shared on other accounts, including personal accounts as well as the Beaver Creek Chophouse page.
“At this point, it’s taken on a life of its own,” Jessica said of the concerts for a cause. “We really only planned on doing it one time and it has turned into a weekly thing due to people wanting to see us every week, which is pretty cool.”
Last week’s performance has over 4,000 views on Facebook, and close to 1,000 comments as people from 24 states and three countries tuned in.
Concerts for a cause
Jessica grew up in the valley before moving to New York City in 2015 for college. She graduated in 2019 and is now working in corporate real estate tax for one of the biggest firms in the world.
Along with her father, they are splitting the funds raised. Jessica is sending her portion to the New York mayor’s COVID-19 emergency fund to help areas of greatest need.
“It’s super important to me,” Jessica said of supporting her second home in New York. “It’s a community that I’ve obviously gotten to know over the course of five years now. I’m really proud to say now that I’m kind of half a New Yorker. I know anything they can get will be really helpful.”
Phil is donating the other half of the money raised locally to the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, doing great work for those in need across the valley.
“It’s been very nice and I think gratifying to us,” Phil said. “We were excited to hand over a check from our hands to someone in here in the Vail Valley.”
‘Blessed with optimism’
The Facebook live concerts started on the KickinNash page, Jessica’s band in New York. Since they were apart, her band would perform together while she performed with her dad. This Friday, they’ll move to the Vail Chophouse Facebook page.
Viewers can donate on Venmo, Paypal and Zelle.
“We were doing it just for a lot of fun and therapy for us as well as people around us,” Phil said.
With the help of his girlfriend, Vivian, and his son, John, as well as family friends Brad Korell and Justin McNulty, Phil and his daughter are creating high-quality performances from their basement. In true Phil Long fashion, a bottle of Fireball is on display, and the signature Throw Money at Me tip jar is front and center as well, except now Phil’s asking his fans to throw money at him virtually — the Venmo account is named after the Throw Money at Me tip jar.
The song choices vary, and there’s a lot of requests in the comments section each week.
“We go in with kind of a plan, but it ends up being super fluid,” Jessica said. “I mean, we know hundreds of songs together.”
Vinny the dog also has made appearances while wandering in front of the camera.
“He definitely was tired of being left out of the fun,” Jessica said.
While spending more time at home, Phil is thankful for the time with his children.
“The family time we had was unexpected, and we’ll never get it back, so it’s been a blessing,” he said. “With 20-year-olds, you just don’t get that time, so they have to play Scrabble with us.”
Jessica, getting ready to celebrate her 23rd birthday, has been winning those board games.
While the donation channels will remain open moving forward, Phil and Jessica are expecting Friday’s performance to be the last big push for donations — an anonymous donor will be contributing a matching contribution of up to $5,000. Phil said many people have reached out asking how to help his employees, whom Phil has been working to protect and care for.
“I think as people we are blessed with optimism,” he said. “As people tell us everything is going to be different, I think a lot of us are just optimistic that we can take one step forward, and the second step and the third and fourth — hopefully, it’s a blip on the screen.”