Benefit concert raises over $60,000 for Jackson rescue organizations

By Eric Ladd EBS Publisher

JACKSON, Wyo. – In the distance, thunder rolled across the skyline of the Tetons as Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real worked through an emotional rendition of Pearl Jam’s classic song, “Breathe.” Enormous banners flanked the stage in the Snow King Ball Park displaying images of two prominent Jackson locals who lost their lives this past spring in a Mount Moran ski mountaineering accident.

Jackson is a community filled with clear eyes and strong souls, and in the wake of this loss nearly 5,000 strong gathered to pay tribute during a night filled with music, tears, dancing and philanthropy. It was a testament to how this mountain town stays strong and supports its own.

The skies were angry the night of Sept. 4, but calmed for the duration of the benefit concert. LOVESTREET MEDIA PHOTOS

The skies over Jackson, Wyo., were angry the night of Sept. 4, but calmed for the duration of the benefit concert. LOVESTREET MEDIA PHOTOS

In recent years the mountains appear to be angry, claiming the lives of too many amazing climbers, skiers and snowboarders. Lately it seems to be the talented, trained, gifted athletes whose lives are suddenly lost, sending shockwaves through the industry.

Luke Lynch and Stephen Adamson were that: strong, certified, strategic and smart, yet with all this acumen were, in the flash of an instant, both swept off the mountain and taken from their beautiful families. Friends and family gathered under the star-filled cool mountain air hugging and shedding tears in memory of Adamson and Lynch, while 5-gallon buckets were filled with donations to support local search and rescue charities.

Sept. 4, 2015, will be known for many things but those who attended this “Celebration of Life” concert will remember a night of incredible music coupled by a dance with nature that left many with the hair raised on the back of their necks.

Lukas Nelson and POTR played a thoughtful and powerful two-

Lukas Nelson, at left, and bassist Corey McCormick tear through a moving set in Jackson, Wyo.

Lukas Nelson, at left, and bassist Corey McCormick tearing through a moving set.

hour concert that felt like a rock ‘n’ roll tribute. Hat sales, raffle tickets and silent auction items raised more than $60,000 for the underfunded yet extremely valuable resources of the Teton County Search and Rescue and Jenny Lake Ranger programs. Over 30 companies donated money and gear to help make the night profitable for charity, and included underwriting from community anchors such as Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

As POTR completed the first encore, drummer Anthony LoGerfo leaned across his drum kit and yelled over the “One more song!” chants coming from the crowd. LoGerfo passionately outlined some song ideas, and frontman Lukas Nelson nodded, taking back the microphone.

Peering out into the crowd, Nelson made eye contact with a recent widow as well as friends of land conservation guru Lynch, and without a word one felt a dedication coming in the next tune. Nelson then broke into his father Willie’s classic, “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” This song was written for times like this.

Three lightening delays took place during the lead up to the headliner show, but the minute POTR took the stage the wind stopped and skies cleared. It appeared more powerful forces were in control of this weather pattern.

Promise of the Real is a four-piece band filled with talent well beyond their years, much like Lynch and Adamson, so it was fitting they led the crowd through this celebration and grieving process.

As the band broke into the last song of the evening, a guitar rendition of “Amazing Grace,” a black cloud appeared from nowhere while thunder clapped and the wind rippled the banners depicting Lynch and Adamson as if they were dancing along.

The author Eric Ladd, Jessie Wiese, Lukas Nelson and Kathy Lynch pose for a photo before the show.

The author Eric Ladd, Jessie Wiese, Lukas Nelson and Kathy Lynch pose for a photo before the benefit show.

As “Amazing Grace” ended, the rain, hail and wind chased the crowd from the venue. Moments later the field was empty. No formal goodbyes were issued, and maybe the celebration of life didn’t require further explanation.

The Jackson community sought shelter from the driving storm; but just as quickly it had rallied around the strength of its two lost heroes for one unforgettable evening. As Lynch often quipped: “Just show up.” This is how Jackson just showed up on Sept. 4.