Concert will benefit ailing Ashland music leader

A benefit concert has been planned for the weekend of June 20-21 for Dave Marston, a well-known Rogue Valley music director and chorale leader who is in home hospice care with a rare and incurable degenerative brain ailment known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Marston, 56, first started experiencing symptoms in February, said Tami Marston, his wife of 20 years. She said the disease brings on Alzheimer's-like symptoms and rapid decline in cognitive and motor function and claims its victims within four to nine months.

Over more than 35 years, Dave Marston has become a fixture on the Rogue Valley music scene, at one time serving as music director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He's led the Siskiyou Singers, the Beatles cover band Nowhere Men, the Marston Family Singers (with Tami and their combined six children), The Ancient Men, the Rogue Valley Peace Choir, the Children's Peace Choir and choirs at the First Methodist Church, the Congregational Church and the Havurah Shir Hadash in Ashland.

He composed an opera, "Waters of Love," performed by Rogue Opera, taught at Elderhostel and worked with two-dozen private students.

The benefit, organized pro bono by Joy and Larry Marshall of Marshall Fundraising Management in Ashland, will feature many of the groups that Marston led or performed in, plus others.

Called "Come Together, Right Now, Over Dave," the benefit concert is planned from 7 to 9 p.m. June 20 and/or 3 to 5 p.m. June 21 at the Historic Ashland Armory. Whether there will be two concerts will depend on how many acts sign up to perform, Tami Marston said.

Final times and dates will be announced later.

Donations will go toward paying $20,000 in medical bills so far. Marston does not have health insurance. The Marstons still have two children in high school in Ashland; the other four are adults.

"Dave brought in 75 percent of the income and the family is profoundly affected," said Tami Marston. "The family is reeling now and needs to sustain itself."

In addition to the concert, the Marshalls are organizing a July "paint-up, fix-up weekend of caring" at the Marston home to get it ready for sale.

Donations may be given to the Dave Marston and Family Fund, Rogue Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 4550, Medford, OR 97501-0275.

Known as "Beatle Dave," Marston is passionate about three things — the Beatles, Brahms and baseball, said Larry Marshall.

Marston is "a maestro and the hardest working musician in Southern Oregon," Marshall said.

Marston once took Tami and the kids on a grand tour of baseball stadiums, attended a San Francisco Giants Fantasy Camp and got to play ball with some of his heroes, friends and family said.

On a recent visit to the city for medical evaluation, the family was given four tickets to a sold-out game — and Marston was wheeled down to watch batting practice.

"We're surrounded by angels and Giants," Tami Marston said, adding that the pro bono fundraising by the Marshalls is the work of angels. They did the same service for an uninsured member of the Nowhere Men who contracted a catastrophic illness last year and is now on the mend.

Dave Marston, a native of Hayward, Calif., and music graduate of University of California at Hayward, recently went to University of California at San Francisco so the medical team could give a second opinion by ruling out any other possible disease.

One of the UCSF staff, as a child in the 1970s, went to Marston's "Pepperland" pre-school in Ashland, learned many Beatles songs, including "Yellow Submarine" and "Octopus's Garden," and now teaches them to the children of the medical staff, said Tami Marston.

The Marston Family Singers last summer gave their final concert, the songs of Pete Seeger, at First Methodist Church in Ashland.

The gravity of Dave Marston's condition became widely known earlier this month when he directed the Siskiyou Singers in "Gems of Broadway." He was helped by three people to the podium to direct the two concerts, for which he received a standing ovation.

Messages for Marston and his family may be left at The Web site also has details on the benefit, work party and how to make donations.

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