Major music festival rolls south

"Ed Wertz, Jay Nehf and Matt Reitz are bringing nationally known bands to play over a two-day benefit music festival for cerebral palsy on South Whidbey Aug. 4-5. The event was originally scheduled for Deception Pass State Park but will now be held on the Southend.Jay Nehf, standing, often spends time with Ronald Peters, an islander who has cerebral palsy. Peters has volunteered with the music festival and will be at South Whidbey Community Park when the bands come to play. Joan Soltys/staff photo The Festival The Benefit Music Festival for cerebral palsy will be held at South Whidbey Community Park on Aug. 4-5, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 to 6 on Sunday. Thirteen bands will play over the two-day festival. Also scheduled are a harmonica workshop at 10 a.m. and a workshop on mandolin at 11 a.m. on Saturday. On Sunday morning there will be a guitar maintenance workshop.Tickets for the entire weekend are $50, or $35 per day. Under 16 pay $15 a day and under age 5 get in free. Tickets are now available at Momentum gym and Murphy's Home Furnishings at Ken's Korner Mall in Clinton; at Renaissance Salon and Joe's Island Music in Langley; and at Webb's Department Store in Freeland; or call Whatever Events, 360-678-9228. For more information visit Benefit Music Festival. Festival performersAll the acts scheduled to perform at the music festival play what organizer Jay Nehf calls, folk with a twist. Each group has a different twist.The Paperboys is a celtic folk group from B.C.The Laura Love Band, from the Seattle area, does blues folk.The Austin Lounge Lizards from Texas are nationally known for their satirical bluegrass.Ray Wylie Hubbard from Austin, Texas plays Americana folk with country roots.Roadside Revue from Florida plays traditional folk.The Girl Next Door is a Northwest band formerly known as 60 Cycle Hum.Nickle Creek recently played bluegrass on David Letterman and was nominated for two Grammys.Country Joe McDonald needs no introduction to his folk rock.Dana Lyons of Cows with Guns Fame.The Kevin Jones Band, a local favorite formerly known as Three Track Mind.Janie Cribbs, South Whidbey blues diva.Blue Marble, a Langley trio that does all original material.Artemis, another island band.Also listed on the original program was the legendary folksinger and songwriter John Hartford, whose many songs include Gentle on My Mind. Hartford died in June.Thirteen bands will converge on South Whidbey Park for major concertThe island musical community will experience a sudden burgeoning this summer, when award winning bands from around the United States cross the moat from the mainland to arrive on South Whidbey's shores.They'll be joining some of the Whidbey's own favorites for a major music festival taking place the weekend of Aug. 4 and 5 at South Whidbey Community Park. It will be a big event for music lovers from all over the region, and promises to put South Whidbey on the regional music map. But the festival is grounded in an even more worthy ambition. The affair has been orchestrated from the start by a few island people who saw what they considered a woeful lack of attention to a medical condition that affected their neighboring islanders. Jay Nehf and Ed Wertz, two Whidbey General Hospital radiology team members and musicians, are the driving force behind the Benefit Music Festival for Cerebral Palsy. Why cerebral palsy? Nehf says he's been interested in the condition for about 15 years. When he moved to Whidbey he met several people with CP, and his interest increased.People are surprised to learn that CP often has no effect on the intellect, Nehf said. The higher functions are there a lot of the time, but they have problems with speech and movement, and people assume they're retarded. The frustration must be unbelievable. Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that occurs just before birth, during birth, or soon after birth. Causes include infection, poor nutrition, toxic substances, genetic disorders and injury. Ronald Peters, 39, is one of those with cerebral palsy whom Nehf and Wertz encountered. Wertz sometimes plays music at Teddy's in Freeland or the Captain's Galley in Coupeville, and Peters is often in the audience.He sometimes crawls out of his wheelchair, crawls up to the stage and tries to play my bass, Wertz said. He said he was worried at first that Peters would hurt himself or damage equipment, until one night he realized that even with all the struggles Peters went through to make his body cooperate, about every third note he hit was the right one. Nehf said he realized the financial straits of people with cerebral palsy one night when he helped Bruce Seaver, who works with Peters, get the handicapped man out of a battered old Toyota and carry him and his wheelchair down the stairs to the Captain's Galley.Someone with muscular dystrophy might get funds and be able to buy a special van, Nehf said. Not so with cerebral palsy victims. Nehf said there is one major difference in the public awareness between the two conditions: Jerry Lewis.Nehf started talking about the gap in services with his co-workers, and Wertz joined him in an effort to help the Whidbey Island cerebral palsy community. Together with Matt Reitz, Kate Smith, Vickie Bayer and Anne Lawson, they set up a nonprofit corporation called Whatever Events. Funds raised by this first music festival will be distributed among people on Whidbey who suffer from cerebral palsy. The group hopes to raise $125,000, and will use the money to purchase speech assisting computers and transportation equipment and help fund living assistance. Our mission is to find all the people we can with cerebral palsy. The money will go to those people, Wertz said.And there is another goal, he said: to bring people together, the handicapped and the non-handicapped. We hope there will be a strong presence of people with cerebral palsy. We'll have volunteers to get them to the festival so they can participate. Julia Johnson, a neurosurgery team nurse at Children's Hospital, will also be on site to assist.Peters is already an integral part of the volunteer team. A fan of basic rock 'n' roll, he also likes country and folk rock music.The best part of the festival is doing the work on it, getting in the park, Peters said, using sign language which Nehf interpreted. Even when it was chilly and rainy, being out with the other volunteers was a highlight, he said.Ronald has been at all the meetings with the people from the park and with the volunteer staff, Nehf said. At the festival itself, he'll be at stageside, holding a clipboard and making sure Jay doesn't trip over a wire.When the festival location had to be changed from Deception Pass, South Whidbey Parks staff were fantastic, Nehf said. They were really enthusiastic and welcomed us. Also involved now is the Rotary Club of South Whidbey, which will be handling concessions to raise money for its skate/bike park. Others in the corps of volunteers have braved the minefields of event organization - from securing a site to lining up the bands and finding a sound system they could afford. Not to mention fund-raising: Nehf has spent countless hours writing letters, sending e-mail and actually pounding the pavement to get some financial support and tell people about his cause.Whatever Events still needs donations, from community members or island businesses. If the festival costs are underwritten, we can use all the money from ticket sales to buy speech translators and other equipment, Nehf said.Nancy Bartlett contributed to this story.What is CP?Cerebral Palsy is a condition caused by damage to the brain, usually occurring before, during or shortly after birth, and is characterized by an inability to fully control motor function. Depending on the site and extent of brain damage, the following may occur, either singularly or in combination: spasticity, involuntary movement, disturbance in gait and mobility, and impairment of speech.Cerebral Palsy is NOT a disease. One cannot catch cerebral palsy from a person who has this condition, nor is it progressive. Although cerebral palsy is not curable, children and adults who have access to training, assistive technology, therapy and support services can experience tremendous growth and development as individuals. Source - United Cerebral Palsy of Southern MarylandRelated Web "

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