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Memorial concert returns to Hannawa Falls

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HANNAWA FALLS - The sound of music drew hundreds to the Hannawa Falls fire hall Saturday for the third annual J.D.M. Musicfest.

The concert is held in honor of Jesse D. McCarthy, a Canton man who died in a car accident in 2009 at the age of 23. Jesse was an avid guitarist, and the money raised at the concert goes to support aspiring musicians.

“He had a lot of friends, as you can see,” said Jesse’s father Edward J. McCarthy, gesturing to the crowd gathered outside the hall.

Last year’s concert raised $7,200, and Mr. McCarthy said Saturday’s show was on track to make even more.

Two teenagers benefit from the fund each year. They do not receive the money directly. Sometimes they receive gift cards for music stores, other times the money is paid directly to music teachers.

The family is hoping to expand the program to include more people, but they have had trouble finding interested applicants. This year the money will be open for children in grades 6-12, instead of 9-12 as it has been in the past.

“We’re not really getting the response from the older kids that we want,” said Edward’s wife Kelly M. McCarthy.

The fund was created to help kids pursue their musical interests, with schools often unable to do the same.

“The music program is one of the first things that gets cut. It’s all about sports,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Finding interested applicants has been a challenge, Mr. McCarthy said.

“It’s almost like you can’t give the money away.”

Five bands entertained the crowd Saturday. Most of the attendees knew Jesse or his family. Some stayed inside listening to the bands, while others gathered outdoors to chat with friends, nurse their beers and let their children play on the nearby playground.

“It’s a great cause. It’s been real good for Ed’s family to maintain their memory of Jesse,” said Joseph M. Thomas, who plays in the Max Ryder band, the main act of the day.

The show was created in 2010 by Jesse’s aunts, Crystal McCarthy and Vicki Stark.

“It gets bigger every year,” Crystal said.

The family also holds a motorcycle run every August to further memorialize Jesse.

Mr. McCarthy said the memories are still painful, and every year he and his wife question whether the concert should happen.

“It’s hard on my wife and I,” he said.

But every year his friends and family pull together, and Mr. McCarthy said they have never regretted it.

Any musicians interested in applying for money from the music award program can call Mr. McCarthy at 854-5057.

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