Finding local musicians to lend a hand for a worthwhile cause has never been a problem for Dave Graham Jr.
For 10 years now, Graham has organized a benefit event for the Wildwood School, and year after year local performers have stepped up to the plate and offered their help. They're doing it again - the event will be held Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. at the Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs -- but this year's musical extravaganza will be the last. The 10th annual WILDWOODstock Benefit is coming to an end.
"After a decade of organizing the event, which grew into something way bigger than we could have ever imagined, the Graham family has decided that this will be the final WILDWOODstock, and we're hoping to go out with a bang," said Graham. "We have been very fortunate to have the help of our extended family and friends as well as the amazing staff at Wildwood who have embraced the event. But we don't want to wait until it loses its luster and over stays its welcome, so we thought 10 years would be a good round number to retire it on."
Wildwood School, created in 1967, is a non-profit, private school designed to help those between 5 and 21 with developmental disabilities, complex learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. The school has campuses on Curry Road Extension in Schenectady and at 1190 Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham. Graham and his wife, Michele, first got involved in the school when their son Luke, now 19, began attending the facility.
"We were at a meeting where Wildwood parents were being asked to assist raising funds to build a playground at the main school on Curry Road," remembered Graham. "Being in local bands over the years, I was able to call on generous fellow musicians who eagerly pitched in for the cause, donating their time and talents. The event went so well that we were asked by Wildwood if we would consider making it an annual fundraiser."
Graham's current band, the Legendary Losers, is an acoustic-driven three-piece group, with Graham guitar/vocals, Chris Wisniewski on bass/vocals and John Van Luyk on drums/vocals. They will perform Sunday along with six other acts. Kicking off the event at noon is the Wildwood house band, WoW, followed by The 317 at 1 p.m., The E-Block at 2 p.m., Legendary Losers at 3 p.m., Talia Denis at 4 p.m., SIRSY at 5 p.m. and Erin Harkes at 6 p.m.
Much of the material performed by Sunday's musicians will be their own.
"We made a point of focusing on 'original' bands and solo artists who get a chance to showcase their own material in front of a very receptive audience," said Graham, who also was a band member of The BLISTeRz. "It has never been a problem getting awesome performers to play the event year after year."
Graham also plays in a band called Watch Reggie Run with his son, Luke.
"To watch Dave up on stage playing music with his son is just an amazing experience," said Mary Ann Allen, executive director at Wildwood. "It's a wonderful experience, and this benefit has been a wonderful opportunity for our families and the individuals that we support to come together and enjoy community, have a wonderful day of music and camaraderie, while also raising funds used to enhance our programs services we provide. It's a great family event, and helps us generate a sense of shared ownership of the agency and our shared mission."
WHAT: A fundraiser for the Wildwood School
WHERE: The Parting Glass, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: Noon until 7 p.m. Sunday (June 4)
HOW MUCH: $5, $10 day of event; 12 and under, free
MORE INFO: www.wildwoodstock.com