Ski for Heat returns for 19th year

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MANCHESTER — One of the most anticipated parties of the new year is just around the corner.

The annual Ski for Heat fundraising concert will hit the stage of the Eagles Club at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12, as organizers look to add to the approximately $425,000 raised for heating fuel assistance over the past 18 years with the music of Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen.

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

But fuel oil is expensive, so Robertson decided to hold a ski-a-thon and asked for sponsorship donations for cross-country skiing.

"My goal was to raise $100," Robertson said. "We ended up raising something like $1,000. It was crazy. It took off."

Robertson said it was so successful, she's done it 17 more times.

The past few years the skiing part of the event has fallen by the wayside and has been somewhat replaced by the concert.

Robertson approached Stannard in 2009 to play the concert.

Together, when discussing the annual show, the pair forms a comedy due with constant barbs and jokes that come naturally after 10 years of working together.

"I had the crazy idea to contact Bob," Robertson said. "It just goes to show what you'll do for a good cause. I've got a big, bad karma debt I'm trying to work off."

Stannard picked right up where Robertson left off.

"This is a clear example of why I should say no," Stannard said, before getting serious. "She asked me if I'd help and I said, sure."

Robertson said Stannard brings quality entertainment to the stage.

"You couldn't get a better night of entertainment," Robertson said. "When people come for the first time, the genuine appreciation of what Bob and the guys do, people are almost speechless."

Stannard, the band's lead vocalist and harmonica player, deflected the credit.

"I have a great band," Stannard said, attributing his popularity to "my ability to draw the most talented people in Vermont to hang out and play with me."

His band includes Jeff Salisbury on drums, Kenny B. on bass, Joe Moore on sax, Brad Morgan on keyboard and John Falk on guitar. "They even manage to make me look good," he said.

In addition, some specials guests are expected, including Gina Coleman of the Misty Blues Band who is expected to bring her son, Diego, a drummer.

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"She's a force of nature," Stannard said. "It's going to be a lot of fun to have Gina back in Manchester."

Stannard also expects to have singer Cooie DeFrancesco join for some tunes, and for Brad Tyler to hop on stage and play the drums as he usually does.

The owner of Tyler Electric, Tyler stepped up as the presenting sponsor to help cover the costs of the evening.

The title sponsor for the evening, Clark's Quality Foods of Londonderry, has been part of the event from the beginning, Robertson said.

The concert has a requested donation of $20 per person, but Robertson said people should come and pay what they can.

"I never wanted to make people feel like they couldn't help make a difference in whatever way they can," Robertson said. "We make it so easy for people to participate."

She said the first year they held the concert it was an "OK crowd," but last year there wasn't a spot in the Eagles Club parking lot.

"People are just so thoughtful and so generous," Robertson said. "Everybody's having a good time, there's dancing It truly is a fun night."

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

Robertson said they have programs in place that help families in need, including those who don't meet income guidelines for other aid, but still need a helping hand with their fuel bill.

Robertson doesn't take a cut, nor does she have any staff to pay.

"All proceeds go to the cause," Robertson said. "We're no frills. I'm very bottom line oriented."

She said the community has rallied around the event and businesses have stepped up, so it's a night of fun for a good cause.

And, as Stannard asked, what else do you have to do in January?

"You're just staring down the barrel of a cold, dark winter," he said. "We're going to put on a great show."

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 www.BobStannard.com.

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


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