Aiken Prep Fest will 'Get Together' to entertain, help community

Second annual event features Jesse Colin Young

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Singer-songwriter Jesse Colin Young, best known for the song Get Together with folk rock band The Youngbloods, is the headline artist at the second annual Aiken Prep Fest on Saturday, March 3.

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Jesse Colin Young and his wife, Connie Young, started Prep Fest last year to bring attention to the needs of children in the area and to introduce young musicians.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Jesse Colin Young and his wife, Connie Young, started Prep Fest last year to bring attention to the needs of children in the area and to introduce young musicians.

Gates open at 3:30 p.m. at Aiken Prep, 619 Barnwell Ave. General admission tickets are $20, plus a can of food. Children 12 and under must bring a canned good to gain entry. To buy tickets online or find a list of ticket locations, see www.prepfest.org.

Other musical guests will include John Francis, known across the world as Planetwalker; Mike Frost Jazz; Adam Cross; John Krueger; Not Gaddy, IDRUM2U and Swingsation of Aiken. Cross and Krueger are young singer-songwriters from the Augusta area.

Now an Aiken resident, Young has been singing songs about peace and the environment for 50 years. Recorded in 1969, Get Together became an anthem of peace and brought The Youngbloods tremendous success, including touring with rock band A-listers Led Zeppelin; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Chuck Berry; The Grateful Dead; Jefferson Airplane; The Beach Boys; The Allman Brothers; Steve Miller Band; Van Morrison; Billy Joel and many others.

“It’s still being played on the radio today. The last time I heard it on TV, it was in a diaper commercial last year,” Young said during a telephone interview. “It’s a timeless message. It’s about loving each other. That desire is buried in every human heart to have a safe place to live and raise your kids. Every time I sing Get Together, it’s a joy. When the audience sings it with me, it’s a beautiful experience. The song has a life of its own.”

Young’s songs have been featured in movies such as Forrest Gump, Jack the Bear, Ghosts of the Abyss, Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas, Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore and Stephen King’s Riding the Bullet. Get Together is still sung in churches and schools nationwide.

Young is working on two recording projects, a jazz ballads CD and a recording of his live show with his current band.

YOUNG AND HIS WIFE, Connie, founded Aiken Prep Fest to bring awareness to the needs of children in the area and bring young musicians forward, Young said. Born and raised in Aiken, Connie Young is a classically trained violinist and has performed with her husband for the past 15 years.

The festival will have two stages to provide family entertainment and will benefit Helping Hands, Children’s Place and Golden Harvest Food Bank, as well as Aiken Prep School.

This year, Young and his wife have created the Prep Fest Sing Out, a contest for amateur singer-songwriters of all genres and ages. Judges narrowed the entries to six contestants: Celia Gary, Susan Chase, James McNair, Mamie Forman (Rake and Rosebud), Ellie Bostwick and Sylvain Chartron. Then, an audience voted for their music online at $2 per vote. All proceeds will benefit charities involved in the Prep Fest.

“The top three will get to sing one song at the Prep Fest. The winner is going to get to sing Get Together with us at the end of the show,” Young said.

The winner will also receive a guitar, he said.

Prep Fest, a collaboration between local businesses and nonprofit children’s charities, will also offer a vendor area, crafts, art and food. The event will have a tent with a “Chastain Park setup” where people can enjoy an $80 catered dinner, said publicist Marsy McFerren.

FRANCIS, A LONGTIME FRIEND OF YOUNG’S, will speak about his experiences and perspective on the environment during Prep Fest. In 1971, Francis witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. The effects of the spill on wildlife and the environment influenced him to stop using motorized vehicles and begin walking everywhere. A few months later, he also took a vow of silence.

His non-motorized lifestyle lasted for 22 years, and his silence lasted for 17. During that time, he walked across the United States earning a bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon State College, a master’s degree in environmental studies at the University of Montana and a Ph.D. in land resources at the University of Wisconsin.

“During all of that time, he was silent. When he gave up speaking, he started playing the banjo and painting watercolors. He only broke the silence to complete the oral portion of his doctoral degree. He has been speaking ever since,” Young said.

He later sailed and walked through the Caribbean and then walked the length of South America. Francis is the author of Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.

His second book, The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World will be on sale starting March 15. On Friday, March 2, Francis will have a book signing at Books-A-Million in Aiken from 5 to 7 p.m.

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