Jam benefits people with MS | SteamboatToday.com

Jam benefits people with MS

Local bands play bluegrass to raise funds for multiple sclerosis center

Margaret Hair

— In its first round of playing in Steamboat Springs, Quarter Moon, with longtime local Gib Manzanares on guitar, basically was a bluegrass band.

Since getting a group back together under the same name in October, Manzanares has taken a slightly different direction, leaving the bluegrass title behind for folk rock and country blues.

Featuring John Aviza on lead vocals and guitar, Bob Shaffer on standup bass and John Huge on dobro, Quarter Moon is one of three local bluegrass bands featured during the seventh annual Bluegrass Jam benefiting Can Do Multiple Sclerosis, formerly The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis. Cornbread and 3Wire also are set to perform.

The fundraising event is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Depot Art Center. Tickets are $20 at the door and include donated food and a couple of drink tickets. In addition to ticket receipts, proceeds from a silent auction featuring more than 70 items also will go to Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.

In its seventh year, the bluegrass jam and benefit has built returning supporters throughout the community, and sponsors have contributed food that should last through the first part of the event, event organizer Wes Dearborn said.

Along with live music, Saturday's benefit includes a speech by Heuga Center founder Jimmie Heuga and planned appearances by famed skiers Nelson Carmichael and Billy Kidd.

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An evening-ending jam session gives musicians who might be newer to town a chance to play with bluegrass pickers who have been in the Steamboat music scene for decades, Dearborn said.

Connections between musicians who play together in the jam have been known to blossom into new bands — Dearborn noted that guitarist Jay Roemer has played in past jams and will join the official lineup this year as a member of the bluegrass group Cornbread.

"I think it's a great music scene for bluegrass," Dearborn said, encouraging locals to "come see what happens at the open jam."

"It's always interesting — spontaneous combustion is what I call it," he said.

Through the years, Dearborn, Vince Arroyo and Michelle Avery, the other members of his Airborne Dearborn team, have tried to top their fundraising mark from the previous year. After bringing in $22,000 in 2009, the group is hoping this year to at least meet the $15,000 fundraising requirement to attend an April awards ceremony in Vail, Dearborn said.

The team will race in a Vertical Express for MS ski race March 7 at Steamboat Ski Area. There is a $1,000 fundraising minimum to participate in that event; information about how to register a team will be available at the bluegrass benefit Saturday.

Founded in 1984, Can Do Multiple Sclerosis is a nonprofit center with a mission to "empower people to move beyond their MS by giving them the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, actively co-manage their disease and live their best lives," according to the organization's Web site. Vertical Express for MS is one of the center's annual fundraisers. For more information about Can Do, visit the organization's Web site at http://www.mscando.org.

According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, multiple sclerosis is "a potentially debilitating disease in which your body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers your nerves."

Gib Manzanares said he was happy to be back with the bluegrass jam, which benefits an important cause, he said. He has a brother with multiple sclerosis.

"Unless you really know somebody or if you have it, you don't realize how important it is," Manzanares said.

If you go

What: Bluegrass jam and silent auction

When: 6:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday

Where: Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.

Cost: $20 at the door

Call: Wes at 846-2333

Online: Listen to 3Wire, a local bluegrass band playing for the seventh annual jam session and concert benefiting Can Do Multiple Sclerosis, at http://www.myspace.com/3wiremusic.