Woodstock concert pays tribute to guitarist Jason Foster (09.17.10)

Kingston Freeman Preview
published: 09/17/2010
by ANN GIBBONS
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It’s an oft-told tale and certainly not indigenous to the music industry. Still, a benefit tribute concert Sunday is one way to keep young musicians walking the straight, narrow – and sober – path to success.

The Jason Foster Tribute Concert at the Bearsville Theatre will benefit The Road Recovery Foundation, established in 1998, that’s dedicated to helping young people battle addiction and other adversities by tapping into the influence of entertainment industry professionals who have confronted similar crises and share their experience and knowledge, according to the website.

“All proceeds from the concert will go directly to the foundation, said Jude DeFalco, chairman of the Jason Foster Project. He said after Foster’s death of an overdose in September 2009, he and other musicians who knew and played with Foster, connected with his mother, Patricia, and brother, John, to form the Project.

He said Foster, like many talented artists, suffered from depression and struggled against the accompanying drug addiction for most of his life. He died at age 40.

DeFalco said the goal of the Project is to raise awareness of the dangers of depression and addiction that affect countless musicians of all ages and the importance of seeking treatment and rehabilitation so they can continue to be creative without the use of drugs.

“After we formed the Jason Foster Project, in November 2009, we knew we wanted to organize a benefit concert around Jay. But, it took us many discussions before we selected Road Recovery as the benefit recipient,” DeFalco said.

He said Project board members wanted a recipient in keeping with Foster’s generosity toward other musicians. “When we met up with Road Recovery, we knew it was an organization that Jason would have supported,” he said, adding that Gene Bowen, Road Recovery’s founder, will attend the concert.

Participating in Sunday’s concert are more than 60 performers, in nine bands, who had some musical connection to Foster. Foster, DeFalco said, at some time in his life, beginning at age 12, played in each of those nine bands, as well as many others.

“He was an exceptionally gifted musician. And, he lived for his music,” DeFalco said, noting that Foster was a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and friend and mentor to many other musicians.

DeFalco said he met Foster in home room at J. Watson Bailey Middle School in Kingston when both were about 12. “We liked the same music and traded band magazines that day,” he recalled. He said as the two got older, their musical tastes changed so he never played in a band with Foster. Nevertheless, he said Foster was extremely generous with his time and talent to other budding musicians they knew.

DeFalco said the purpose of the concert is two-fold: as a tribute to celebrate Foster’s life and the musicians who played with him and to raise awareness about depression that afflict artists and often leads to addiction, and, in some cases, to suicide.

He said the incredible line-up of musicians and bands, including local favorites, 3, Perfect Thyroid, Peacebomb, Lunchmeat, The Reptiles, Hysteria, Talon and Evidence, will perform, adding that Foster played in every one of them at some time.

“Several of the bands performing are reuniting after not performing for nearly 20 years for this one night only,” he said.

David Daw, who played bass with Foster, said he had known him for 27 years. “He was the greatest musician I have ever known. We met when we were 13 or 14. And, even then, he just blew people away with his guitar skills,” he said, adding that Foster could play a song he heard just once on the radio and get it down flawlessly.

“I timed him once,” Daw said. “He learned Van Halen’s ‘Run with the Devil’ in seven minutes flat and played it note-for-note perfect. He only heard it once. That’s how good he was.”

“WHAT A STAR!” said former band mate and drummer, Chris Gartman. “Jay was born to play guitar. His performances during the ‘80s are part of the musical history of Kingston,” he said, adding that he played in six bands with Foster beginning in 1991 with Peacebomb in its earlier incarnation.

Still in the band, 3, where Foster played as well, Gartman said he’s looking forward to getting together and playing with musicians he hasn’t seen in years, noting that one musician is coming all the way from Las Vegas for a 20-minute gig. “The number of musicians coming is a testament to how loved and admired Jay was,” he said.

Gartman said Foster never made a mistake on stage, and picked up for other musicians when they did. “He was solid. You knew you were in good hands musically with him.”

“THAT WAS AWESOME,” is how Foster would described a song he thought really rocked, said guitarist, songwriter and former band mate Joey Eppard. Eppard, who is also in 3, said Foster got him to write more and sing more. “Pretty soon, we were all singing together in three-part harmony. It was awesome,” he recalled.

“Jay really had a gift,” Eppard said. “He could really play and tell a story with his guitar. That’s when you knew his greatness,” he said.

“I really miss Jay. He certainly had his troubles and I think music was the best part of his life,” Eppard said, adding, “He’s making music wherever he is. And, he’ll be with us Sunday.

“And, the rest of us, we look at each other and realize we could be gone tomorrow, too. We need to look each other in the eye and be good to each other,” Eppard said.

DeFalco said Sunday’s concert would be hosted by masters of ceremony Jack Hammer and Andre Kane from WBPM 92.9’s Electric Morning Show. The evening will also feature a Jason Foster biography video presentation featuring live video footage and still photographs of Foster throughout his career. As each band performs, photos of their performances, back in the day with Foster, will be projected behind them, DeFalco said.

DeFalco said Foster, during his career, had recorded seven songs he had written. The Jason Foster Project board had the songs re-mastered and a limited-edition, Jason Foster CD, “Truth Serum,” will be available for purchase at the show, along with an event program.

DeFalco said the show would be recorded by HD video and audio so the Project could release a double CD and a DVD of the entire show.

Copy Hut and Angela’s Pizza are sponsors of the concert and DeFalco said the concert would not have progressed smoothly without their support.

In addition to general admission tickets, $35 VIP tickets are available that include a Jason Fostere Project T-shirt, awareness bracelet and keychain, the “Truth Serum” CD and an event program.

For more information about The Jason Foster Project, contact DeFalco at (845) 594-6034 or email uptown1026@hotmail.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Jason Foster Benefit Concert: Benefit for The Road Recovery Foundation

Where: Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker St., Woodstock

When: Sunday at 2 p.m.

How much: Advanced $15; $20 at the door; 14 and under, $5 at the door; VIP tickets, $35

Call: (845) 679-4406

ONLINE: www.bearsvilletheater.com/

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