Donation Helps Send High School Students to Boston

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A $200 donation from a popular Vintage Acoustic music duo will help students at Calais High School with their band trip to Boston next year.

Ken and Jane Brooks donated the money last week to CHS band teacher Alison Brennan and members of the school’s music group. “All of the band and instrumental students attend this trip and we visit a live music performance in Boston. This year we are going to Blue Man Group,” she said. “In the past we have gone to the symphony and national touring musical groups.”

They also plan to visit the Berklee College of Music.

She said in April, 32 students will be able to enjoy the sights and hear the sounds of Boston.

CHS student Brandy Murphy, 17, who is a senior and who plays tenor saxophone said she was excited about the trip. “I like going on a band trip every year and being with my band family,” she said.

In October, the Brooks along with Phil and Ellen LaClaire performed at Washington County Community College. In addition to their donation to CHS, they also donated money to the WCCC scholarship fund they established last year.

Ken said that the concert went extremely well. A $1,000 was raised. “We also had help from sponsors this year,” Jane said. “Individuals that were willing to give their money.”

This was the fourth year they have brought their mix of music, including country and bluegrass, to WCCC. They are planning another concert for next year. “We bring different musicians with us every year,” Ken said.

Ken has been performing for more than 45 years. He has performed with a number of Maine bands including Bluegrass Supply Company, Union River Band, Bob and Grace French and the Rainbow Valley Folks and Fox Hollow. He is presently a member of the Katahdin Valley Boys, an award-winning bluegrass band. Ken and Jane also have performed with Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame.

They have been married for the past 25 years and live in Athens, Maine.

He has recorded 10 albums and has appeared as a backup musician on others. In 2012 he was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame. Ken and Jane received the “Vocal Duo of the Year” award for 2012 from the Maine Country Music Association. 

Ken and Jane have been performing as a duet act since 2004. Jane found her bluegrass roots when she and Ken were married in 1987. Seven years ago when Ken was not playing in a band, Jane decided to learn to play the bass, which she affectionately named Ella.

It is through Ella that the couple has an unusual connection to the Berklee College of Music. “The bass that Jane plays was purchased in 1977 by a guy who attended the Berklee College of Music to become a jazz bass player,” Ken said “He later became a banjo player in a band I was with for a number of years. So that bass has a connection to Berklee.”

“Ella has been to Berklee,” Jane added with a laugh.

The Brooks are very proud of their WCCC scholarship fund. Last year, then WCCC President Joyce Hedlund approached them about setting up a scholarship in their names. They agreed and established the Ken and Jane Brooks WCCC Scholarship Fund. The money added to the scholarship fund this year will be awarded to two WCCC students.

To make a donation, make checks payable to the Ken and Jane Brooks Scholarship and send to WCCC, One College Drive, Calais. All gifts to WCCC are tax deductible.