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Nine bands, one cause

October 04, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Just because local guitarist Jason Chalfant died earlier this year doesn't mean he can't still pack a house full of music fans.

Several musicians at a Sunday benefit for an organ donation group, held in his honor one day after his birthday, said the show was all about honoring the revered musician's heart.

The 2004 Jason Chalfant Memorial Jam drew more than 125 music fans to the New Del-Mar Inn on U.S. 40.

The show featured local blues rock acts such as Dem Guise, Chalfant's former band Rudy & The Bluefish, and an ensemble featuring his brother, former Kix drummer Jimmy Chalfant, whose members performed Jimi Hendrix songs they played together when they were teenagers.

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In all, nine bands rocked the bar for more than seven hours and helped raise money for the Transplant Resource Center of Baltimore, a cause taken up by Jimmy Chalfant following his brother's death.

Jimmy Chalfant said he was overwhelmed by the large response from bands who wanted to play at an event honoring his brother, the second this year. He said some had to be turned away because of time constraints.

"There were just too many this time," Jimmy Chalfant said apologetically. "I wanted to give them (friends and former bandmates) the first opportunity to come out and honor Jason."

Jason Chalfant was traveling north on Md. 64 near the intersection with Bradbury Road on Jan. 18 at 12:46 p.m., when his 2000 Chrysler hit an icy patch and left the road, Maryland State Police said. His car struck a guardrail, overturned and landed in a creek bed, police said.

He was pronounced dead on Jan. 24.

Jason Chalfant, a proud organ donor, would have turned 50 on Saturday, his brother said. He said the memorial jam will be held annually in early October to coincide with his birthday.

"We just wanted to have a little party for him and give something to the transplant center," Jimmy Chalfant said.

Like the show held in Jason Chalfant's honor just weeks after his death, Rudy & The Bluefish raised the level of emotion in the building Sunday by playing the guitarist's signature song, "The Sky is Cryin'."

"Yeah, it made my cry," said a red-eyed Mike Holtzman of Rudy and the Bluefish. "I'm too big to be cryin'."

Laird Bush, who became the band's new guitar player in mid-March, said he was honored to take the stage for the benefit.

"It was all about having a good time," Bush said. "Everyone knows he was an organ donor. One thing he left us with, musically, was his heart," he said.

Matthew "Uncle Brother" Kline of the Lunar Stew Trio said he did not know Jason Chalfant well, but wanted to be a part of the concert out of respect.

"A lot of people were inspired by him as a musician and a mentor," Kline said. "He was a good dude."

Though many at the show either knew Jason Chalfant as a friend, family member or bandmate, several came out just to see a good show.

"I heard some really good music today," said Lea Miller of Berkeley Springs, W.Va. "And I think it's neat they're giving money for charity."

Johnny and Diane Smiles, who recently moved to Waynesboro, Pa., from Nashville, Tenn., said they were surprised and impressed by the quality and variety of the music in the Tri-State region represented at the show.

"The fund-raiser is a very worthwhile thing, and it's just great to hook up with other musicians," said Johnny Smiles, a guitarist. "I had no idea there was so much talent here."

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