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Fifth annual KeithFest June 28 at Coyote Moon Vineyard in Clayton honors a musical legacy


CLAYTON — When a group of musicians gathered to celebrate the life and music of Keith E. Brabant five years ago, his mother figured it would be a one-time event.

“It was such an outpouring of love and music,” said Melody A. Brabant, Keith’s mom. “People then kept saying, ‘Let’s keep doing it.’ So that’s what we did.”

The fifth annual KeithFest is from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 28 at Coyote Moon Vineyards, 17371 County Route 3, Clayton.

Those who perform at KeithFest share his passion for music. In a letter he wrote to his mom in 2006 from Colorado, Mr. Brabant expressed his love of music and the path it was leading him on. “The only thing that I want to happen is for the music to get created,” he wrote. “And that’s been happening from day one. All small pieces of ‘fabric’ over the course of my life — that will be a ‘quilt.’”

Mr. Brabant was the victim of a shooting in April 2010 in the town of Alexandria. The Keith Brabant Music Scholarship Foundation was formed shortly after his death.

Mr. Brabant was a musician and composer who performed in numerous bands all over the country and in Seattle and Breckenridge, Colo. He also loved the outdoors and studying history, religion and government.

The music scholarship in his name, administered by the Northern New York Community Foundation, has awarded $8,000 to young north country musicians since 2010. Applications are reviewed each year by the KeithFest panel. Five scholarships to students in Jefferson County will be presented at this year’s festival.

Because the festival is on June 28, graduation day for several local schools, admission will be free for any 2014 graduating senior with school identification.

The music kicks off at noon with local musician Sarah Parker Ada playing ukulele. The scholarships will be presented at 12:20 p.m.

The music continues from 12:40 until 2:15 p.m. with Mark Mason and friends Gary Walts, Sam Hopkins, Jim Burr, Lisa Forshaw and Jim Wiley. Up next will be Dave Scanlon and the DTZs, followed at 2:45 by Coyote Moon’s own Foggy River Band.

At 3:30 p.m., the acoustic trio Define Normal will take the stage.

“The Keith Brabant Experience,” an annual tribute session to Mr. Brabant by Justin Reynolds and friends, takes the stage at at 3:50 p.m.

“That is very close to my heart,” Mrs. Brabant said of the annual session. “It’s Keith’s original music and a lot of the cover songs that he enjoyed playing. It takes a lot of devotion from the musicians to put it together. Musicians come from all over who get together and learn Keith’s music, which can be quite complex.”

The band Casey Street Shuffle will perform at 4:30 p.m. followed by The List at 4:50 p.m., Sonic Buzz at 5:35 p.m., Root Seller at 5:55 p.m. and Ian Wagner at 6:40. At 7:10 p.m., Minus Mike, the group Mr. Brabant started out with during his teen years, will wrap up the festival.

The festival also will offer activities for children throughout the day, including a bounce house, craft tent and an “instrument petting zoo.” The instrument zoo will include an acoustic guitar signed last year by KeithFest participants. In a new tradition, an acoustic guitar will be signed by participants of each KeithFest for display the following year.

An assortment of food, ranging from fried cheese curd to wine slushies, will be offered.

■       ■       ■

The 2014 Keith Brabant Music Scholarships honorees:

$600 to Sonja Lara-Gonzalez, Theresa, a student at Indian River Central High School. Funds will go toward music lessons and/or the purchase of a violin.

$600 to Trenton Service, LaFargeville, who attends Alexandria Central School. Funds will go to his attendance at the University of Massachusetts summer music camp.

$600 to Jahara Green, Calcium, a student at Indian River. Funds will go to the purchase of a violin, and/or to attend the Crane Youth Music Camp at SUNY Potsdam.

$400 to Rachelle Johnson, Alexandria Bay, a student at Alexandria Central. Funds will go toward Camp Electric in Cedarville, Ohio, and/or Orangehaus music camp in Anderson, Ind.

$400 to Brady Towne, Fort Drum, a student at Carthage Middle School. Funds will go toward Crane Youth Music Camp and/or purchase of a double bass.

The details

WHAT: Fifth annual KeithFest

WHEN/WHERE: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 28 at Coyote Moon Vineyards, 17371 County Route 3, Clayton.

COST: $10 for ages 12-65 and $5 for those under 12 and over 65. This year, the festival has been designated a Yellow Ribbon event. Soldiers and their family members will be admitted at half price with military ID. Free admission will be given to any graduating high school senior with school ID. There is a family rate of $25.


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