Moon River Jamboree drums up funds for local music scholarships

WANSHIP, Utah — Mountain Town Music’s (MTM) second annual Moon River Jamboree on June 15 will be held at Blue Sky Ranch. The Jamboree celebrates the life and continued legacy of Michael James Richards, son of Mountain Town Music’s Executive Director, Brian Richards. Tickets are available online.

Mountain Town Music’s Jamboree’s live auction proceeds go to the Michael James Richards (MMF) Memorial Fund, which provides music-based scholarships, education, and internships for students of diverse backgrounds interested in the music industry.

Zane Jensen, PCHS class of  2022 and scholarship winner, is an Honors Student at the University of Utah studying Jazz and Classical performance as a double major.

Jensen said, “It is amazing that MTM is willing to invest in me and my music again. I really appreciate that this is even a possibility, and I do keep Michael in mind as I pursue my passion for music…I plan to study Jazz and Classical performance as a double major at the U and spend as much time as possible performing and sharing my love of music. It has been amazing to be able to devote my time and attention to music, thanks to your investment in me and my love of music.”

The Richards family; from left to right: Brian, son Jack, Joanna, and Jack and Michael’s grandparents at last year’s Jamboree. Photo: Jamy Beecher.

“The biggest impact of attending the Moon River Jamboree, and supporting the MMF, is the incredible impact on these kids’ lives as they move into the next chapter of life,” said Richards. “Music is so important in bridging the gap between mental health issues and shyness. Not only does the scholarship have a monetary impact, but it has a social impact as well.”

Michael began his “spirit journey,” as Brian prefers to say, after a rare heart condition arrythmoegenice right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), reared its ugly head at Cornu Ranch in 2019. Michael was very involved in the goings-on of MTM events and fundraisers, wearing many hats and having many talents that proved useful to MTM.

Michael and his parents at PCHS graduation, 2019. Photo: The Richards family.

“Michael’s heart, which was just too big for his body, gave out unexpectedly. He started his spirit journey doing what he loved.”

Naturally, Michael loved music; he essentially had no choice after growing up in Brian’s vinyl shop, Orion’s Music. One of the many artists he loved was Frank Ocean; the Moon River Jamboree is named for Ocean’s song of the same name.

In honor of Michael, his parents, Brian and Joanna Lamb, knew he would want to give back and keep the music going, so began MTM’s Michael James Richards Memorial Fund.

Michelle Moonshine performed at last year’s cocktail reception at 4U Ranch. Photo: Jamy Beecher.

“It’s very important for us that we support these kids if they’re in need throughout their collegiate career,” he said. “Not just give them one scholarship and be done with them. One of the things that we’ve talked about for many years is creating what we like to call a sustainable music community.”

Essentially, MTM and its MMF can support students’ interests and professional pursuit of music from ages 14-22. MMF provides students scholarships of up to $20,000 to pursue a career in the music industry at the collegiate or technical school level.

“I am so incredibly grateful to have been awarded a scholarship. As a financially independent student, this award is incredibly important to me and I am very pleased to be able to continue funding my Music Education aspirations studying at the University of Utah. This certainly makes the financial burden less of a worry for me.” — Maya Drayton PCHS 2023 – University of Utah

The event will be held at Blue Sky Ranch. Complementary transportation begins at 5 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception with music by Freedog. The live auction will raise money for the Michael James Richards Memorial Fund and guests will get to hear from the 2023 scholarship winning students. Dustbowl Revival caps off the night with live music and dancing.

Buy your tickets here to support local music and budding young musicians and sound engineers in the community.

The following students are the 2023 Scholarship Winners:

  • Adan Monzalo – South Summit High School

  • Tyler Kaufman – Park City High School

  • Maya Drayton – Park City High School

  • Oliver Moore – Park City High School

In addition, the committee awarded support to the 2022 Scholarship Winners Continuing in Music Education:

  • Nina Gayard –  New York University

  • Zane Jensen – University of Utah Honors College

A $3,000 grant was also awarded to Park City Song Camps presented by Mary Beth Maziarz for Summit County Youth.

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