Country in the Rockies X: The Ultimate Backstage Pass

Posted in News on March 7, 2004
Country In the Rockies X lived up to its billing as "The Ultimate Backstage Pass," bringing legendary artists like Mel Tillis, Charlie Daniels and Kenny Loggins together with a new generation of singers and songwriters to make music and make money for cancer research. The event, chaired by BMI's Tom Annastas and Paul Corbin, is held at Club Med in Crested Butte, Colorado.

[bottom] Tom Annastas, Frances Preston, Kenny Loggins, Lari White, Suzy Bogguss, [top] Chuck Cannon, Jeffrey Steele, Tom Gross

A record-setting crowd of nearly 400 people gathered for the 10th anniversary of the signature fund-raiser for the T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer, Leukemia and AIDS Research. The event directly supports the Foundation's Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, a facility named for BMI President & CEO Frances Preston.

Tim Rushlow, Trick Pony's Ira Dean, CMT's Lance Smith, Trick Pony's Keith Burns and Heidi Newfield, Bill Johnson

Ski races, outdoor activities like snowshoeing and sleigh rides, all-star concerts, informal late-night guitar pulls, a Celebrity Happy Hour fund- raising competition and much more gave participants entertainment options virtually round-the-clock. However, the cause behind the event was never far from mind.

VICC's Dr. Hal Moses, BMI's Frances Preston, and Tom Gross toast CITR's 10th Anniversary

"One in two of us in this room will face cancer in our lifetimes, so this is really important," Gary Chapman said, coaxing members of the audience to fill a passing pitcher with cash during the Celebrity Happy Hour. During this popular event, teams of singers, songwriters and others work hard to raise the most money in a two-hour period in five watering holes downtown; this year, they brought in more than $200,000 in exchange for singing favorite songs, signing autographs and posing for photos.

Raymond Hicks, Mimi Wallace, BMI's Joyce Rice, Deborah Allen, Vanderbilt's Dr. Wright Pinson

Country in the Rockies (CITR) kicked off Tuesday, Jan. 27 with an opening guitar pull featuring Gary Morris, Chuck Cannon, Lari White, Suzy Bogguss, Mandy Barnett, Jessi Alexander and Jon Randall. The following night, Paul Overstreet, Kathy Mattea, Trick Pony, Mel Tillis and his band The Statesiders continued the music in the Club Med Theater. The all-star finale on Jan. 31 featured Lorrie Morgan, Kenny Loggins, Robert Earl Keen and BMI Country Songwriter of the Year Jeffrey Steele. Other participating artists were Sherrie Austin, Deborah Allen, BlackHawk's Henry Paul, Dave Robbins and Anthony Crawford, Doug Crider, Dean Dillon, Bob DiPiero, Will Rambeaux, Tim Rushlow and western painter Kelly Donovan. Champion freestyle skier Wayne Wong returned to offer expert tips for Saturday's ski race and Tom Gross marked his 10th year as emcee of the week's activities.

VICC's Dr. Hal Moses, Orrin Ingram, Lee Ann Summers, VICC's Dr. Ray DuBois

Earning the nickname "King of Crested Butte," Aaron Barker was back for another year of hosting late-night guitar pulls. Barker also led a large group of artists in taking the music off the mountain and into the historic mining town of Crested Butte, where they performed concerts especially for the locals to thank them for their hospitality. "We look forward to this every year," 24-year Crested Butte resident Joe Snyder said. "The music is fabulous, and we are so grateful for the work that this event supports," he continued, noting that his wife, Brenda, is a two-year survivor of ovarian cancer.

Jessi Alexander, Stan Moress, Mandy Barnett, Jon Randall

In addition to a record-setting total number of participants, the event also drew a record 182 first-time guests. Suzy Bogguss, a veteran of six CITRs, said she was especially pleased to see so many new faces. "The cameraderie of this event and getting to know people from different worlds is what makes this event so special and so unique," she said.

Wayne Wong

Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw

Among other highlights of CITR X:

-- Barker's wife Theresa organized silent and live auctions of artwork, guitars and other instruments, jewelry, clothing, sports and celebrity memorabilia, and trips. Among the auction tidbits: a special CITR-edition Yamaha guitar was claimed for $4,000 by a Crested Butte resident on the eve of his wedding.

-- Mel Tillis shared funny stories with guests and fellow artists throughout the week, and even took up a new assignment as roving television reporter for Great American County, recording the festivities during Celebrity Happy Hour.

Mel Tillis, Chuck Cannon, BMI's Harry Warner

Carolyn Corlew, Charlie Daniels, Tom Gross

-- Charlie Daniels shared inspirational words about his experience as a cancer survivor and thanked everyone for their support of cancer research. Daniels, who headlined one of the concerts at CITR 7, was diagnosed with prostate cancer the following year and received his treatment at Vanderbilt-Ingram.

-- More than two dozen doctors, scientists and other staff from Vanderbilt were on hand to meet with supporters and share information about how money raised through Country in the Rockies is put to use in Nashville. The Vanderbilt team also presented a video highlighting accomplishments of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center - accomplishments made possible with the support of CITR, the Martell Foundation and others. The video was produced by Jackson/Kent, with Jon Kent as creative director and Vali Forrister as executive producer.

Sherrie Austin and Will Rambeaux

"We are so grateful for the support we receive from everyone who has participated in Country in the Rockies over the years," said Dr. Hal Moses, director of Vanderbilt-Ingram and the Preston Laboratories. "I'm looking forward to all the fun we're going to have and the progress we are going to make together over the next 10 years."

Dean Dillon, Aaron Barker, Gary Chapman

In addition to the ever-expanding list of guests and participating artists, the number of sponsors of the event grows each year as well. This year, sponsors included BMI, Club Med, CMT, Coca-Cola, Ortho-Biotech, the Smith-Free Group, AmSouth, Bank of America, Yamaha, Baldwin, Gibson, Gurley & Co, the Gary Group, American Airlines, Fischer, Leki, Cowboys & Indians, Dasani, Jack Daniel's, Hall Booth Smith & Slover, Travis Television, Icue Productions, Audio Visual Projection Services, and Country Music Across America.

Kelly Donovan with auction winners Paul & Julie Overstreet

Dates for 2005 have already been confirmed as February 1-6 at Club Med Crested Butte.

Photos by Alan Mayor


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