OAKHURST – With the Honorary Mayor race about mid-stride, we are reminded that the campaign supports vital area nonprofits, and as a bonus, the would-be mayors often come up with cool, creative ways to raise funds.
So it is with the Mat for Mayor campaign on behalf of the Oakhurst Boys & Girls Club (BGC), and their Sounds of Solstice Jam music festival on Saturday, June 21, at Oakhurst Community Park.
Sounds of Solstice (SOS) is the culminating event of the Mat for Mayor Campaign to benefit the BGC, with longtime Oakhurst resident Mat Sands running for Honorary Mayor as he did, successfully, in 2008.
“I’m a huge supporter of the local music scene.” Mat says, noting that the SOS fundraiser is a great fit for him.
“One of my favorite things to do is going to a concert or watching a local band at a local wine bar or pub, and I’m certain the Sounds of Solstice Jam is something that this town will be talking about for months, if not years, to come.“
Mat is currently on the Board of Directors of the Oakhurst BGC, and he’s excited about the opportunity to stage a big concert at the park.
Sounds of Solstice (SOS) is a day-long, family-friendly event with an outstanding lineup of musicians, including some local, and some not-so-local. It’s billed as a full day of fun from noon to 8 p.m., with food, drinks, vendors and attractions for kids.
The cost to attend is $15; children 12 and under enter for free. There’s also a value-added VIP package with some benefits, including a t-shirt sporting the SOS logo designed by Courtney Lynn.
Berkeley-area band Ten Ton Chicken headlines the Sounds of Solstice Jam.
“The Chicken has a wide spectrum of musical influence that’s evident in their sound and a plethora of jams in their repertoire,” Mat points out. “This will be their second show in Oakhurst and they are thrilled to come back.”
Also taking the stage is a Berkeley band known as The Cameltones, playing the “favorites of your favorites,” including Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac.
From a little closer to home, two Oakhurst bands will perform, including the newly formed Centerville which includes YHS alum Andy Platfoot on bass.
SOS also welcomes popular group The Fanatiks, bringing classic and modern rock songs to the platform. “The Fanatiks are probably the most well known local band, playing up here for many decades,” Mat says.
Rounding out the bill is a group out of Fresno called Richfield.
“I first met Ted Nunes of Richfield when he opened for a Ten Ton Chicken show in the Bay Area. So the TTC boys will be happy to reunite with him during the SOS show.” The sounds of Richfield are “rooted in folk and country, and inspired by the California Sounds, as well as traditional American roots songwriters.”
Mat’s own dad Danny Sands will make an appearance as well, turning the event into a party that’s part concert, part family/friend reunion for Mat.
“My father, Danny Sands, is a musician, so music was a big part of my childhood. He has been playing piano since he was five years old and co-wrote a Top 40 hit “The Fanatic” that he performed with his band Felony in the early 80’s. I remember band practice in my living room and watching my Dad’s band on American Bandstand with Dick Clark.”
With a passion for music that began as a kid, Mat explains the close Bay Area connections to SOS.
After graduating from Yosemite High School in 1996, he moved to Berkeley and among other jobs, ran the sound board for Ten Ton Chicken. At the inaugural SOS, which organizers hope will be an annual event, Mat’s Uncle Steve will handle the Chicken’s sound.
While a slew of friends and family are gathering for Sounds of Solstice, at it’s core, the event is really about the kids and families who rely on the Boys and Girls Club in town.
Back in 2008, Mat’s campaign for Honorary Mayor on behalf of the BGC raised over $22,000 for the Club. Having been through the race before, Mat knows the ins and outs of the Mayoral campaign, and says he could not and would not do it without the outstanding group he’s working with this year.
The ‘Mat for Mayor’ team consists of four people: one is Melanie Barker of Bass Lake Realty, who is the President of the BGC Board. “Melanie works harder than anyone else for the BGC of Oakhurst. During the campaign, she has been extremely helpful with creating our partnerships with local businesses and campaign sponsors. I honestly do not know how she is able to juggle so many things at once.“
Also on the BGC campaign committee are Board Members Eric Wood, who is a Loan Officer at W.J. Bradley Mortgage, and Bob Macaulay of the Macaulay Insurance Agency.
“The four of us make a great team and each of us are able to contribute in different ways. We have teamed up with Round Table Pizza, River Creek Golf Course, South Gate Brewing Company, Queen’s Wine Bar & Beer Garden, The Pizza Factory, Crab Cakes, Bass Lake Water Sports and Bass Lake Realty to host our events.”
It takes a lot of sweat to pull together a festival of this size, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Mat, who’s been combining good times with fundraising since he was little.
In 1982 and 1983, living in southern California, Mat was the poster child for the Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation. Despite the pain of having the disease, he remembers the activities associated with those days very fondly.
“My Mother always kept me in the loop about anything that involved me and I always felt like I had a choice in my healthcare and fundraising efforts,” he remembers.
“I was on TV on the local KTLA telethon, and answered phones to get donations from people that called in. I got to spend time at the Jackson Family home, where I met Janet, Michael and their mother Katherine. I was even an extra in the original Terminator movie and got a piggyback ride from Arnold! All of this was made possible because I was a kid that loved to be in that spotlight and enjoyed fundraising.”
Spending childhood summers at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles getting a therapeutic “tune-up,” which could include new medicines or even surgery, Mat really looked forward to the breaks that working for the nonprofit Foundation provided.
“It was nice to get picked up by a limo to take me to Disneyland for the weekend for a medical seminar on Arthritis. Not only was I having a fun time, I knew I was helping to spread awareness of my disease and that could potentially help other kids in future generations when they were diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis.”
He learned from an early age that fundraising could be rewarding and fun.
“That’s what I’m doing with the ‘Mat for Mayor’ campaign this year. Let’s raise money for the kids, spread awareness of The Club and have a ton of fun while doing it.”
The BGC in Oakhurst provides a safe, fun and educational environment for about 40 to 60 kids each day and has a current enrollment of over 75 kids. Not only is the Sounds of Solstice music festival one that will benefit the kids and families of the BGC, it’s an event people can feel comfortable bringing their kids and teenagers along so they can enjoy the summer fun together. Ticketed guests can expect attractions including bounce house, fly fishing demos, games and even alpacas. Now, that’s a festival.
The Mat for Mayor campaign wants to thank the SOS sponsor, SierraTel and additional sponsors including South Gate Brewery, Idle Hour Winery, Crab Cakes, Sierra Fly Fisher, Yosemite Mortgage, Courtney Lynn and Bass Lake Water Sports.
“The Sounds of Solstice 2014 music festival is jam packed with extremely talented musicians. There will be a good balance of original and cover songs. Bring a blanket to throw down on the grass in front of the stage, maybe a few chairs, an umbrella to shade from the sun may even be a good idea. Get there at noon and post up for the day, enjoy some local brews and wines and be prepared for amazing sounds of solstice.”
The best part for Mat?
“Watching all of the people having fun.”
For more Information, call Mathew Sands at (559) 426-5591