A dance at the Sonora Opera Hall on Saturday will honor the memory of arts benefactor Richard Burleigh and raise money for young local artists.
Burleigh’s family along with the Tuolumne County Arts Alliance have been working together to create the Richard Burleigh Memorial Scholarship to support local youth arts. The scholarship is designed to help provide access to the arts through scholarships, arts lessons, instrument rental or purchase, and possibly helping to bring guest artists and musicians to the area.
Last year the fund made two contributions to bring music to the youth of the community. The first was a weeklong music camp experience at Joe Craven’s River Tunes Camp for a young man, and the second a donation to Band Stand. The Band Stand project collects unused and unwanted instruments, has them refurbished and donates them to kids participating in local music education programs.
“We all need to remember Burleigh for his work that laid groundwork for our local arts community,” said Connie O’Connor, former TCAA executive director. “He was the driving force behind the Sonora Christmas Craft Fair and Music Festival and the Summer Arts & Wine Fest in Twain Harte, as well as the producer of the Blues and Brews Fest, which lasted for 16 years. He produced many festivals and concerts in other Northern California communities and knew every influential contemporary musician on the West Coast.”
Saturday’s event will be a fundraiser for a new scholarship program.
“Richard wanted kids to have every chance to get involved in the arts,” said his widow, Corinne Grandstaff. “So, we’re going to help make that dream real.”
The Sonora Opera Hall’s doors will open at 6 p.m. Saturday, and music performed by Tom Rigney and Flambeau will begin at 7 p.m.
“Our concert celebration will feature a very popular band,” said Kailee Burleigh, daughter of Richard Burleigh. “My dad enjoyed introducing Tuolumne County to great new music and musicians. Tom is not new to Sonora, but he is one of the best!”
Rigney has been a part of the San Francisco Bay Area roots music scene for more than 35 years. In 2000, after 15 years as the leader and electrifying violinist of The Sundogs, fiddler/composer Rigney stepped out on his own with a new band, Flambeau. The repertoire is original, eclectic and passionate.
Along with Rigney, the band features Danny Caron on electric guitar, Caroline Dahl on piano, Steve Parks on electric bass, and Brent Rampone on drums.
“Tom was a regular at the Thanksgiving weekend Christmas Festival,” said Laurie Lehmann, a longtime friend of Burleigh. “When I was an elf at the fair, Tom would play in the afternoon for all the visitors and then that night he would play the very popular After Hours Party where all the vendors and volunteers would dance the night away. Once you’ve seen Tom rocking his red boots you never forget it.”
Advance tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at Mountain Bookshop at The Junction shopping center in East Sonora, at TradeWinds Fine Consignment in downtown Sonora, or online at tuolumnecountyarts.org/store. If available, tickets will sell at the door for $30 per person.
“We hope that lots of folks will get their tickets early,” Lehmann said. “This is going to be such a great night!”
Before the evening festivities begin, Winters Tavern, across the street from the venue, will offer a special menu for those who show their dance tickets. A no-host beer and wine bar featuring Lagunitas beers, Twisted Oak wine and Indigeny ciders will be available at the Opera Hall.
Richard Burleigh worked with the arts community for four decades before his death on Jan. 1, 2016.
“We’re grateful to the arts alliance and Richard’s many friends for helping us,” Grandstaff said. “We share Richard’s vision of strengthening children’s lives through the arts.”
TCAA’s new executive director Lisette Sweetland added, “If you’d like to contribute, but you can’t come that night, please make a donation in Richard’s honor to TCAA during their Hearts for the Arts campaign.”
For more information on the campaign, visit tuolumnecountyarts.org.