MUSIC BOX: Jackson’s Still Got It

By on November 8, 2016

Benefit for Teton Literacy Center holds more weight this year as org confronts cuts.

Adele Erickson serenades the crowd for Jackson’s Got Talent.

Adele Erickson serenades the crowd for Jackson’s Got Talent.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Back in September, reality TV series America’s Got Talent crowned its Season 11 winner: Grace VanderWaal, a twelve-year-old ukulele player that broke the mold by playing four original songs. VanderWaal took home a million dollars and the opportunity to headline a show in Las Vegas. As with most reality TV shows, AGT can be over-the-top, sometimes brutally honest in its criticism. It also inspires dreams, and in the case of the localized offshoot, Jackson’s Got Talent, the stakes are making an immediate difference in support of community services.

The local Jackson’s Got Talent is worlds away from the big screen, and one can really sense that it’s a growing grassroots initiative. Jackson’s Got Talent started in the aftermath of the November 2013 Philippines Super Typhoon, Typhoon Haiyan, when local volunteer Cristine Watson was inspired to start a community-driven event to help rebuild homes. In 2014, over 150 community members, volunteers, advocates, supporters and lead sponsors came together for the first-ever Jackson’s Got Talent fundraiser. After several months of hard work, the first event raised more than $65,000 during an entertaining and impactful evening.

The annual social fundraising event/talent show is now celebrating its third year. Last year’s event benefited Habitat for Humanity by raising more than $91,000. This year the love is being spread to Teton Literacy Center (TLC), which stands to lose $210,000 annually under the new state budget cuts. TLC’s mission of building a 100 percent literate community appears attainable when noting the amount of energy invested in this event.

“Proceeds will directly support our tutoring, enrichment and family literacy programs,” explained Laura West Soltau, executive director at TLC. “This is crucial timing with the recent state budget cuts in July. All of our programs are currently free and we hope to keep them that way. This includes one-on-one tutoring for students that are behind in reading, enrichment after school, and English as a second language.”

Jackson’s Got Talent put a call out to all local talent, young and old, individual or groups, musicians, singers, dancers and performers of all genres. Applicants submitted a two-minute video by October 5, and then finalists were announced on October 10.

Contestant videos have been posted online at, where you can preview a slice of this year’s talent such as Pfunder’s bike stunts or nine-year old Evans-Wilson singing “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Miserables. Talent will have the opportunity to receive “Fast Passes” to audition for the national TV show. Two winners will be announced at the end of the event as well as a People’s Choice Award for the act with the most number of votes. The official panel of Mark “Fish” Fishman, Nicole Madison, and Gavin Fine will select the Judge’s Choice Award. Tony Horton will be the emcee for the evening.

Interested in getting involved? TLC recommends visiting the website to vote, but also consider attending the show, shopping at the silent auction, or attending one of the pre-parties. Eat pizza as a show of support at a pre-show at Pinky G’s 5 p.m. Saturday, where 20 percent of proceeds will benefit TLC.  Another pre-show will be at 6 p.m. at The Rose, including dinner and cocktails. The Wort Hotel is also offering discounted rooms.

Jackson’s Got Talent, 7 p.m. Saturday, November 12 at the Pink Garter Theatre. $100 for dinner & show, $1,200 for a table of eight. for tickets, or to vote.

Altruistic jam banders Brothers Gow take on the Tav this weekend.

Altruistic jam banders Brothers Gow take on the Tav this weekend.

Psychedelic philanthropy

Well-seasoned Ocean Beach, California quintet Brothers Gow not only melts faces but also gives back to their local community. After happening upon the band in Montana, I was transported to the late 90s jam band era thanks to skilled double-guitar and keyboard attack featuring complex arrangements and focused improvisation. The band also delivers a psychedelic light show and a progressive rock flare. Digging into the band’s history, listeners will discover an array of side projects ranging from philanthropic to the entrepreneur-minded. The Brothers Gow Music Foundation raises money to put instruments in schools and the band was even recognized by the House of Representatives for their hometown contributions.

Brothers Gow, 10 p.m. Monday, November 14 at Town Square Tavern. Free. 733-3886. PJH

Aaron Davis is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, studio engineer, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan Tour.



The Met Live in HD: Don Giovanni (Center Theater)


Steep Ravine with The Railsplitters (Silver Dollar), Tom Bennett One Man Band (Town Square Tavern)


Jackson’s Got Talent (Pink Garter), Candice Miller & Friends (Knotty Pine), Steep Ravine with The Railsplitters (Silver Dollar)


Stagecoach Band (Stagecoach)


Brother’s Gow (Town Square Tavern)


One Ton Pig (Silver Dollar)

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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