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Musicians tee up for Local 47 charity

Members of Professional Musicians Local 47 hit the links to help their own

Posted: November 4, 2009 9:49 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A Fender Squier signed by Don Felder of The Eagles was one of nearly 100 items up for auction at the tournament.

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While not hitting a downbeat, nearly 100 musicians from Professional Musicians Local 47 hit the links early on a Monday morning for the eighth annual Fall Classic Golf Tournament held at the Robinson Ranch Golf Course in Sand Canyon to benefit the Local 47 Musicians Foundation.

The primary mission of the Local 47 Musicians Foundation is to provide financial assistance to musicians who are temporarily unable to work due to sudden illness, poverty or other distress.

In 2002, then Local 47 President Hal Espinosa, a long time SCV resident, recruited the American Federation of Musicians and Local 47 business associates to become founding sponsors of the annual golf tournament to strengthen the musicians Relief Fund.

"We have helped numerous musicians with rent, utilities, car payments, medical co-pays," Espinoza, a trumpet player, said. "We once helped a musician with enough money to get his car out of Phoenix, Ariz. so he could go to a gig. But some folks are very sick and need medication. Lots of guys don't have 300 qualifying hours to qualify for Motion Picture health insurance. So Local 47 has its own (medical) plan."

The Local 47 Musicians Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization. Each year, the tournament brings in nearly $70,000 to $90,000 from sponsors and participants. Espinoza said about 65 percent of those funds go directly to support its nearly 10,000 members.

"Prior to our annual tournaments, Relief Fund grants were limited to only $360 per musician - not even enough to cover a month's rent," he said. "Maybe that was enough 30 or 40 years ago, but at the time, we simply did not have enough funds to provide larger grants."


Dave Ewart

In 2005, Dave Ewart, his father Hugh and son Michael were severely burned during a Dec. 20, 2005 fire that gutted the family's Valencia home.

Ewart played first violin with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and was a session violinist on records and live dates with artists including Barbra Streisand, John Williams, Elton John, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Luciano Pavarotti, Quincy Jones, Luis Miguel, Madonna, Dave Grusin and Harry Connick Jr. In addition, Ewart has been recorded on more than 500 motion picture scores.

During the fire, his precious Italian violin - made by Jannarius Gaglianus in 1765 - and other violins, bows and a viola were destroyed in the blaze. According to Espinoza, Local 47, along with the American Federation of Musicians, were able to step in and help Ewart with a $10,000 grant to help him purchase new instruments.


Club House Party

While the golfers were streaming in from the course in the late afternoon, the Hodads started up a lively, be-boppin' mix of classic rock and roll to fit the theme of all-American music.

Considered to be one of the best theme party bands in Los Angeles, the Hodads include Tony Jones on drums, Bob Shuster on guitar, Sterling Smith on keyboards, Jimmy Street on saxophone and Chris Farmer on bass.

The band played a steady stream of hit after hit while the participants flooded into the club house to chow down on grilled chicken, tri-tip, ranch beans, Caesar salad and pie.


Cool prizes

The 2009 Tournament co-chairs and hosts were FOX 11 news anchor Christine Devine and musician and actor Sean McNabb (Dokken, Quiet Riot). After dinner, they announced the raffle winners for tons of trips and gift baskets and handed out prizes for the best players.

Naturally, it wouldn't be a fundraiser without a silent auction. Among the top items up for bid were two Fender Squires, one signed by Dennis Hopper and the other by Don Felder of the Eagles.

Also up for sale were original autographed score pages by composer John Williams including "Star Wars Suite Main Title," "Harry Potter" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark."


Sponsors

For the third year in a row, Keyes Lexus of Valencia was a corporate sponsor of the tournament. Happily, Lexus General Manager Bill McClendon and his team, David Jedyank, David Van Orden and John Perkins, snagged second place.

McClendon said he became aware of the event due to Espinoza's enthusiasm and what he feels is a great job they do for musicians.

"We have committed to being a corporate sponsor for the next several years," he said. "It is one of the most enjoyable events we have attended."

Other sponsors included Pacific Federal, Toyota of Hollywood, Arrowhead, California United Bank and Health Net.

While he didn't golf, current Local 47 president, Vince Trombetta, was on hand for support. His job is mostly to lobby for fair trade practices and the rights of musicians. He said Local 47 is the second largest musicians union to New York, but only by a few hundred people.

"But with all the recordings and film scores out here, we certainly have the busiest," Trombetta said.


Famous faces

Also on hand was Richard Karn, ("Family Feud") who was a member of the 2009 Honorary Tournament Committee. Karn said he has a soft spot for the Union because his son, Cooper Wilson, is a film composer.

"He just scored his first film, ‘The Unicorn,'" he said.

Karn also expressed a special fondness for the grand, symphonic movie music, like the classic score for "The Magnificent Seven," written by the legendary composer Elmer Bernstein.

"That kind of music makes you excited for the movie to start," he said.

Support for the Tournament also came from the other members of the 2009 Honorary Tournament Committee including composer Randy Newman, actor Ed Asner, Daniel Baldwin (HBO's "Grey Gardens"), Joe Mantegna (CBS's "Criminal Minds"), Tony Dovolani (ABC's "Dancing With the Stars"), Don Felder (Eagles), Kevin Sorbo ("Hercules"), Gordon Clapp ("Flags of Our Fathers," "NYPD Blue"), Rick Garcia (KCAL News), Carlos Amezcua (FOX News), Anthony Anderson (NBC's "Law & Order"), Wendy Burch (KTLA News), Howard Dell (Olympic Gold Medalist), Kevin Dobson ("Days of Our Lives"), Cristian de la Fuente ("In Plain Sight"), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Lu Parker (KTLA News) and Stephen Root ("No Country for Old Men").


A great course

For some of the folks, especially among those who live in the SCV, playing at Robinson Ranch on a weekday was kind of like spending a day out of school.

"It is a beautiful course, we had a lot of fun out there," said Scott Jeppesen, a saxophone player from Canyon Country. That day his foursome included fellow musicians Adam Bhatia, trumpet, Rob Schaer, trumpet and horn player Justin Hageman.

"We actually won last year," Jeppesen said. "We love to come out every year to support the union."

This year, Jeppesen's team tied for first, hitting a 59 on 18 holes, but lost to another team in a back nine playoff.

The first place winners were a fearsome foursome led by music copyist Liz Finch, Walt Fowler, Tom Rainey and attorney David S. Boyce.

"In our case it was truly a team effort, " said Finch, an avid golfer. "Everyone was a winner."

While Finch, Fowler and Rainey were old hands at golf, this was the first time Boyce had attended this fundraiser.

"There are lots of people competing for charity dollars," Boyce said. "Hal not only made it happen, but created a great tournament."


Kids and jazz

When not playing gigs, Jeppesen does computer work and teaches sax, clarinet and flute at Nick Rail Music in Santa Clarita.

Jeppesen's wife, Roxanne, plays drums and teaches music for the Sulpher Spring School District.

This summer, for the second year in a row, Jeppesen and his wife taught the Summer Jazz Workshop at the Little School of Music on Bouquet Canyon.

He said it is open to kids from age 11 to 17 and offers the teens a chance to play jazz, something they don't often get to do at school.

"We'd like to get more students to sign up year-round," Jeppesen said. "If we get enough people, we can have a concert at the end of the session, because kids don't get enough chances to play during the summer."

Jeppesen said he has been a professional musician for 14 years and admits this is the slowest year he has ever seen for gigs, but remains optimistic that things will pick up.

"The business always goes up and down," he said. "Music has been around for a thousand years, it will come back."

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