MUSIC BOX: Two tuneful benefits

By on June 9, 2015

Ailing local guitar legend Kelly Rubrecht needs a little help from his friends

Jackson Hole music fixture Kelly Rubrecht is battling Parkinson’s.

Jackson Hole music fixture Kelly Rubrecht is battling Parkinson’s.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – As a part of the formative years of the Jackson music era in the early 1970s, Kelly has unquestionably been revered as an impeccable guitarist. Kelly, along with his wife, Shelley (a four-time state fiddle champion), have been staples of the growing country-Western scene.

Kelly is currently battling Parkinson’s Disease and the family is facing catastrophic medical expenses and long-term nursing care. Friends of the Rubrechts have launched a fundraising drive to benefit the longtime valley couple. The yearly cost of medical expenses, not covered by insurance, exceeds $100,000. Their son, Ian Carlos, plans to attend his first year of college next fall. The Community Resource Center is an intermediary for donations, and a benefit dinner concert is planned for Sunday.

The benefit concert will be headlined by nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Stephanie Davis and world-class bottleneck blues guitarist Mike Dowling. Davis has written songs for Garth Brooks, Waylon Jennings, Shelby Lynne and Martina McBride, among others, as well as released five successful studio albums of her own.

As for Kelly and Shelley, their colorful career explains why they are an institution and local treasure. They’ve been featured on “A Prairie Home Companion,” played a private birthday party for President Bill Clinton, and flourished in the local scene playing firemen’s picnics, weddings, dances and of course, the fledgling bar scene of the 1970s and 80s. The Rubrechts have also noted informal jam sessions with fellow musicians as being a significant part of their musical life.

“I had a band playing truck-driving songs mixed with western swing,” Kelly explained to me in a 2006 interview. “I was lucky enough to sit in with some great players, too, like Johnny Gimble, who is the fiddler on many well-known western swing albums of the day [including Bob Wills’] and also incredible guitarist Red Steagall and pedal steel player Bud Isaacs, who invented the pitch-changing pedal for the instrument.”

The concert is sold-out but tax-deductible donations, payable to the Community Resource Center/Shelley and Kelly, can be made online at, or mailed to Shelley and Kelly Benefit, PO Box 229, Jackson, Wyoming 83001.

Kelly and Shelley Rubrecht benefit/concert/dinner, 4 to 8 p.m., Sunday at Dornan’s Chuckwagon in Moose. Tickets are sold out. A silent auction will include a host of goods and services, including extremely rare guitars. 307-733-6326 or 307-733-5336.

The Unseen Janis Joplin, in film

Pulling from his personal archive of material as Janis Joplin’s road manager, local author/musician John Byrne Cooke will unleash rarely-seen films of touring with Joplin at a fundraiser Thursday. This is a chance to see a unique, personal view of an iconic star while also supporting the Jackson Hole Writers Conference (JHWC), which is recognized as one of the most respected conferences in the country. To make the conference affordable to a wide range of aspiring writers, JHWC keeps its fees as low as possible. The nonprofit puts on free workshops, fosters writing endeavors in the community (jail, schools), and spearheads the annual conference slated for June 25-27 this year.

The event includes live music by Cooke and friends and he will sign copies of his recent memoir, “On the Road with Janis Joplin,” in the theater lobby after.

“The Unseen Janis Joplin,” 7 p.m., Thursday at the Center Theater. $12., 733-4900. 

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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