Ski for Heat is back for 20th annual benefit

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MANCHESTER — One of the most anticipated post-holiday parties of the year will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11, at the Manchester Eagles Club, when the 20th annual Ski for Heat fundraiser will be held to raise money for low-income heating assistance.

Tickets are available at the Northshire Bookstore or in advance, or at the door the night of the event.

The fundraiser is run by Martha Robertson, who enlisted Bob Stannard and his band about a dozen years ago to play a party for the fundraiser.

Having raised more than $425,000 over its first 19 years, the event features live music by Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen who will bring the groove for dancing and an overall good time while raising money for a good cause.

"There are so many people who need help and need assistance and this is a nice way to help everybody," Robertson said. "Everybody wins. The people get a nice show and the money goes to help people who need help."

While the suggested donation is $20, Robertson said guests should pay what they can and not let a dollar figure keep them away.

"One nice thing about the concert is it allows people to give and take part without it being a burden," Robertson said. "It's whatever people feel comfortable doing. Even just showing up and showing your support."

Robertson said the generousness of people who have supported Ski for Heat continues to overwhelm her.

"Paying the rent and paying the heat is hard, paying bills is hard," Robertson said. "After that first year, I was amazed. I have people who have donated for 20 years. Ski for Heat never would have continued if people weren't so generous. People like to give."

Stannard agreed and shared Robertson's thrill at people's generosity.

"People have been generous about this," Stannard said. "I know there have been people dropping $100 bills in that bucket. They appreciate that [Martha] and her twin sister do all this, and have done all this for 20 years."

All proceeds will be donated to BROC and Southeastern Vermont Community Action for local assistance.

Last year was the event's biggest year, Robertson said, as the concert and dance continues to grow in popularity.

The event began one year when Robertson and her twin sister, Laura, decided to stop exchanging gifts. Robertson decided to make a donation of fuel oil to a needy family in her sister's name.

They began by holding a cross-country skiathon with proceeds benefiting the fund. The concert was added later and has become the main source of fundraising as the skiing part fell away a few years back.

Several special guests are expected to sit in with the band, including Brad Tyler, owner of Tyler Electric, the leading sponsor of the event. Tyler Electric pays the musicians in the band, although Stannard works for free, which he joked about with Robertson during an interview, as the pair fell into their Abbott and Costello give and take.

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"This is the longest-running, lowest paying job I've ever had," Stannard said. "I've never done anything for 12 years. I'm on my farewell tour. Been on it for four years now. Why am I doing it? I'm doing it because I'm told to. I'm trying to retire."

But Robertson counters.

"He emailed me," Robertson said as Stannard smiled in agreement.

Stannard, who sings and plays harmonica, brings one of the tightest bands in the area to the show.

He's backed by Jeff Salisbury on drums, Kenny B. on bass, Joe Moore on sax, Brad Morgan on keyboards and John Falk on guitar.

"They even manage to make me look good," Stannard said. "I'm the weak link in this band. They steal my show and I let them. But I look good on stage. You've got to look good to make up for my lack of talent."

Stannard even joked about Tyler and the fact he usually plays a song or two with the band.

"There's an off chance, if people call Tyler Electric and beg him to play, we might get him up there," Stannard said. "We might get Brad up on stage to sit in on drums. He's pretty shy so I don't know."

Whoever plays with the band, Stannard is positive they'll put on a good show.

"This is probably going to be the best show we've ever put it on," Stannard said as Robertson smiled.

"He says that every year, but it does seem to get better every year," Robertson said. "I think a lot of people come back every year. It's the highlight of the winter for them. People are just truly excited to be there."

Which Stannard said feeds the band.

"The band picks up on that," Stannard said. "People dance and it's so much fun."

Tickets are available at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester or at the door the night of the show. You can also contact Robertson at SkiForHeat@myfairpoint.net or 802-779-2227.

For more information about Ski for Heat, log on to www.skiforheat.org. To learn more about Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen and to see his upcoming gigs, go to BobStannard.com.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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