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Jamfest raises money to support families of donors

October 23, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - While the five people whose lives he touched last were not in the crowd, a memorial jam Sunday for John S. "Jason" Chalfant proved the local blues musician could still attract a crowd.

Almost three years after Chalfant's death, local musicians, former bandmates, friends and family turned out for the Third Annual Chalfant Jam at New Del Mar Inn to raise awareness about organ donation.

"Jason was an organ donor. He was able to save five people through organ donation," said his brother, Jimmy Chalfant.

Jason Chalfant, of Waynesboro, Pa., died Jan. 24, 2004, less than a week after he was injured in a car accident while returning from a Rudy and the Bluefish concert. A guitarist who was a fixture on the local blues scene for about 30 years, Chalfant would have been 52 on Oct. 2.

Jimmy Chalfant, a drummer, said the money raised from the concert will go to Transplant Resource Center of Maryland, which helped educate and comfort his family after his brother's death.

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"I think it was a little bit of a comfort to everyone in the family to know that he was able to go on and help five lives, even though his life was over," Jimmy Chalfant said.

Michael Holtzman, a drummer who performed with Jason Chalfant, responded almost immediately when asked how long he had known the guitarist.

"Not long enough," Holtzman said.

Chalfant was a positive person, Holtzman said. After Chalfant died, Holtzman said he moved to Nashville. But on Sunday, he was back in town for the benefit.

"Yup, he was like a brother to me," Holtzman said.

According to Charles E. Alexander, Transplant Resource Center of Maryland president and chief executive officer, proceeds from the concert will benefit support programs for the families of organ donors.

More than 90,000 people in the United States, including more than 2,100 people in Maryland, are on waiting lists for organ transplants, Alexander said.

"I think this is not just Jason's legacy as an organ donor. This is Jason's legacy as a musician and a man in the community that everybody knew and loved," Alexander said.

Many of Jason Chalfant's former bandmates volunteered to perform for the benefit, his brother said.

"What I like to do is include musicians Jason played with over the years, which is a lot of people," Jimmy Chalfant said.

The concert was scheduled to last seven hours.

"It's a Rudy reunion jamfest," said Tom Borum, who as the founding member of Rudy and the Bluefish played with both Holtzman and Jason Chalfant.

Borum said Jason Chalfant was humble about his talents.

"He was a fantastic musician and a fantastic person, both. Some people are one or the other, but he had it all," Borum said.

As performers took the stage, Brian Marquiss of Hagerstown shared his memories of Jason Chalfant.

"Everybody says the same thing about him: It was his heart. He was a great guy," Marquiss said.

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