An Odd fundraiser for Open Sky at Port City Music Hall

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PORTLAND — A new fundraiser is taking over Port City Music Hall on Saturday, Dec. 4, and it’s an odd one — an Odd Ball, to be precise.

Kimmy’s Odd Ball began as a 40th birthday party for Kimmy Welch Wilson, the venue’s hospitality and special events coordinator, but has expanded into a tribute to Van Lawton, a bass player who died in the fall of 2009, and a fundraiser for the Open Sky Fund, a musical instrument donation organization started in Lawton’s memory.

“When I go out, I like to go all out,” Welch Wilson said. “This is the last year I’ll probably want to draw any attention to my birthday and I knew I wanted any money to go to buying instruments for children.”

The event begins with a VIP reception at 5 p.m. followed by an early concert by Gypsy Tailwind, then a 7 p.m. general admission show, which brings together eight local bands, food and craft vendors, dancers, poets, comics, hoopers and a VJ.

“The last song Van played for us was the most beautiful song,” Open Sky Fund organizer Amanda Parkhurst said. “He said he was still working on it and it was called Open Sky. He died a few days later, so there was no recording. Only the people who were there heard it that night.”

After Lawton’s death, a group of his friends wanted to “keep his music and magic alive,” Parkhurst said, and thought the best way to do that would be to give instruments to children whose families could not afford to buy them.

The Open Sky Fund, which began in October 2009, has donated a variety of instruments and lessons to students all over Maine. During the Odd Ball, the organization will present a 12-year-old boy of South Paris with an electric bass donated by Red Hook Brewery.

The funds raised at the event will pay for a director for the Open Sky Fund, which is in the process of applying for tax-exempt status.

Attendees are encouraged to dress creatively. The bands, as well as the vendors, are donating their time and talents to support the cause.

“Everyone there’s a big supporter,” Parkhurst said. “It’s just great.”

Tickets are $20 for the general admission show. For an additional $10, general admission ticket-holders may attend the earlier Gypsy Tailwind performance at around 6 p.m.

“We encourage people to come out and support local music,” Welch Wilson said. “People can do their Christmas shopping downstairs, eat and give the gift of music to kids around the holidays.”

For more information, visit PortCityMusicHall.com.

Emily Parkhurst (no relation to Amanda Parkhurst) can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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