BRASHER FALLS - Musicians will be gathering Saturday at The Riverview Bar and Restaurant to pay tribute to one of their own and raise money for a new music scholarship.
Six bands - Kickin Back, Oshier Country, Back Draft, Senior Moment, Dave MacMillan & the Villagers and The Drifters - will be performing at a music jamboree in honor of Michael L. Best, who died in September 2011 at the age of 59.
All the musicians that played with him and knew him wanted to have a jamboree for him before he passed away, according to Mr. Bests wife, Julia.
But that idea didnt come to fruition.
We did not want a jamboree. We asked him if he wanted a jamboree and he said, No, it would be like going to my own wake, Mrs. Best said.
After Mr. Bests death, she said she wanted to do something in his honor, but not necessarily a jamboree. I said I was going to start a music scholarship.
Before she could mention her idea to anyone - including members of the family - Mrs. Best said she was approached by another musician, James Gurrola, who asked if they could do something in Mr. Bests memory.
After talking about the idea, Mr. Gurrola learned about Mrs. Bests plan to start a music scholarship.
He said, lets have a jamboree. They were determined to have something, she said.
That jamboree will be held from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the River View, located at 928 state Highway 11C, Brasher Falls. All proceeds will go to the St. Lawrence Central Music Scholarship in memory of Mr. Best.
In addition to the bands, there will be raffles, 50/50 drawings and a silent auction of Mr. Bests Yamaha drum set.
The donation to attend is $5 a person, and check donations can be made out to St. Lawrence Central School, with M. Best Music Scholarship in the memo line.
The scholarship will be a monetary award for $4,000, payable over four years in eight $500 installments. The student must maintain a 3.0 or equivalent grade point average.
The selected recipient who receives the award will be attending a four-year college or university degree program for voice or instrumental studies.
Mr. Best was a 1969 graduate of St. Lawrence Central School and was a member of the drum corps in what was then the schools 101 Marching Saints, as well as the schools chorus.
Mrs. Best said he picked up the drumsticks around sixth or seventh grade and continued playing them, while also adding piano to his musical instruments.
He continued as a drummer and pianist through his life, playing with such groups as The Star Dusters, Dave MacMillan & The Villagers, Kickin Back and, at times, as a solo pianist.
Now many of those musicians will be playing in honor of Mr. Best on Saturday.
Every one of (the bands) is giving their time. Hes played with some or all of the members of all the bands, Mrs. Best said.
Among those who will be performing is Dave MacMillan, whose musical relationship with Mr. Best stretches back many years.
Michael played minstrel shows back in the day with Dave MacMillan in Massena, Mrs. Best said. When he was 17 he also played where the Lobster House is now, at the Sunset Lodge. Wherever he could play, he did.
Mr. MacMillan remembers those days.
He was still in high school when he started. He was only 17 years old at the time, he said, noting they played together for approximately 25 years. We go back a long, long time. Ive known Mike ever since he was 15 years old. Little did I know he would die before me. Im 81. He was like a son to me. I was very close to him.
Mr. MacMillan, who still performs regularly, including monthly appearances at nursing homes that hes been doing for 42 years, fondly remembered Mr. Best.
Everybody knew him. Nobody hated Mike. He was a guy that everybody loved, he said.
Mr. Best, he said, was a community-minded man. He was a member of the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce; served as the parade chairman for the Tri-Town Winter Carnival for many years; was a member of the Massena Rotary Club and the Breakfast Club; and was a member of the town of Brashers Zoning Board of Appeals.
He also served on the Pastoral Council at St. Patricks Church, where he worshiped, and was an active part of the Family Festival.
He was a community-minded guy. He did a lot of charity stuff. We played a lot of charity events too, Mr. MacMillan said.
Weve had a lot of good memories over the years. He was just a joy to be around. He was a great guy and we miss him, he said.
Mr. MacMillan said hes looking forward to performing on Saturday.
Its a great honor for Mike, and he deserves it, he said.