Sunday, December 14, 2008

Linda Ralph Benefit Concert at Weston Playhouse

Linda Ralph

Linda and Butch

Linda Ralph lies ill in a Vermont hospital. On Thursday night a nor’easter turned portions of New England into a huge ice rink, littering roads and power lines with ice and knocking out electricity to almost half of New Hampshire and large swaths of Vermont. Because the power had been out at the Weston Playhouse for thirty-six hours, the benefit for Linda was cancelled and then, when the power was at least partially restored, revived. On receiving word of the cancellation, members of several of the bands had made other plans, which made it impossible for them to come. Despite all this and an antiquated heating system struggling to bring the building’s temperature up to the comfort level, about 300 people showed up to celebrate in Linda’s name and contribute funds toward helping the family meet the challenges of this devastating health crisis.

Weston Playhouse

A variety of items were donated by the bluegrass community for a silent auction including a lovely Martin Night Shift guitar. New England and New York bluegrass festivals donated weekend passes to a number of very good festivals, and musicians showed up to play for the enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd. Linda Ralph’s mother, sisters, daughter, son, and grandson came for the event and showed marvelous grace in their response to the audience despite the grief and fear they all carry. Candi and Seth Sawyer ram-rodded the event with the assistance of Candi’s mother Brenda and her grandfather, Fernan Mathews. The Jenny Brook Bleugrass Festival family of volunteers showed up and did yeoman work all day long, including a couple of hours cleaning the facility after everyone else had left. Events like this show the bluegrass community at its very best, coming to the assistance of those in need by celebrating their lives and the music we cherish. Despite the sadness of what has occasioned the event, those attending were able to share together the fellowship of their concern for Linda and her family and the joy of the music. What follows is a small pictorial representation of the event.

I've posted at Picasa Web Album with a larger selection of pictures from the benfit. Look for it here. I will leave it up for 30 days. You should be able to download any picture you want, print it, or distribute via e-mail. Enjoy them. Let me know if you like them.

Candi Sawyer & Harry Ralph

Candy Sawyer and Judy Ralph

Clyde Proch

Irene Lehmann, Clyde & Scott Farrar

Judy Ralph and her Niece

Zach Ralph & Judy Ralph

The mellow voices and entertaining singing of folk and pop ballads by Al and Kathy Bain opened the afternoon's event. Their low-keyed approach and support for the event provided exactly the right opening for the days.

Al Bain

Kathy Bain

Rob Ravlin Pick-Up Band
Personifying some of what makes bluegrass such an attractive form, this band, some members of which had never met before Saturday and who had not had time to practice, took the stage and were a successful and delightful group to watch and listen to. Joe Singleton's marvelous and flexible voice, Donnie Perkins well-known fiddle, and Rob Ravlin's baritone singing and effectiveness on both guitar and banjo sold their show. Gary Hutchins on bass and Leslie King on mando contributed to a fine set that drew an admiring encore.

Rob Ravlin

Don Perkins

Joe Singleton

Leslie King

Gary Hutchins

The Cabin Fever Band
The Cabin Fever Band, coming from the Albany, NY area couldn't all be at the event, but they were well represented by two of their members, and other places were filled by member of Family & Friends, the Ralph family band.

Brian Jiguere

Harry Ralph

Tom Griffith

Steve Thurston

The Seth Sawyer Band
The Seth Sawyer Band, always an act in process, put forward a very good version of itself. Always featuring Seth's marvelous voice and solid rhythm guitar as well as Candi's good work on bass along with recent additions Joe Singleton, whose voice melds wonderfully with Seth's and Rob Ravlin, the band also featured Leslie King on mandolin and Donnie Perkins on fiddle. This audience knows Seth and his work well and requested his much loved songs like "Rough Edges," "Long Forgotten Dream," "Rose Colored Glasses," and "Green Mountain Girl" written for Candi.

Seth Sawyer

Candi Sawyer

Joe Singleton

Multi-Instrumentalist Rob Ravlin

Leslie King

Mike Robinson, well known throughout New England as well as at southern festivals has an active ministry to bluegrass events and to bluegrass people. Through his Sunday bluegrass gospel jams, his emcee work at many events, and his personal counseling, he provides a significant service. At this event, he sang and played a Christmas song he has written. It was a moving and effective piece.
Mike Robinson

Leigh Gibson and Friends

Leigh Gibson appeared with a pickup band consisting of Robert and Lillian Fraker. Eric, after the initial cancellation, had sent his wife and kids off to a karate event and was left at home without transportation. He was clearly devastated that he could not get to Weston. Seth Sawyer also made a guest appearance to sing his "Engineer without a Train." Leigh offered Gibson standards like "Sam Smith," "The Barn Song," and "Open Road." He concluded the evening with the most appropriate "One Raindrop."

Leigh Gibson

Robert Fraker

Linda Fraker

Seth Sawyer

Leigh Gibson

Clyde Proch and Kathy Coburn - Linda' Sister

Kathy and Margaret Coburn (Linda's Mother) and Billie