Keith Perks

PHOTOS: ‘For Tommy: A Celebration of Life’ benefit at River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains, 08/12/18

PHOTOS: ‘For Tommy: A Celebration of Life’ benefit at River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains, 08/12/18
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Every time there is a benefit or charitable cause raising funds in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the local music scene is always there to donate their time and talent, so when it came time to do so while honoring one of their own, they delivered in spades.

Tommy Wynder, a loved and respected drummer, music teacher, father, brother, uncle, and friend, passed away unexpectedly at age 42 on June 22. Born in Pittston, the Exeter musician performed in local bands like Nowhere Slow, M80, The Five Percent, Souled Out, Option, and 123Go, among others, in addition to teaching students in the Pittston Area, Wyoming Area, Lake-Lehman, Valley West, and Norristown school districts.

It wasn’t long before his friends and family organized “For Tommy: A Celebration of Life,” raising money for his family, particularly for his young daughters Kelce and Avery Wynder, and eulogizing Wynder in the most appropriate way – through music.

Held at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains on Sunday, Aug. 12 and featuring live performances by many of his former bandmates, the show’s lineup included Andrew Jon Sleboda of Option, Soul Reunion, The Five Percent, A Proud Monkey, Brian Quinn of Candlebox, M80, Nowhere Slow, and a “superjam” with Robb Brown, Dustin Drevitch, Kermit Alphonso, Krysten Montgomery, Jeremy Wood, Jamie Hutch, and more. Even some of Wynder’s young students played throughout the night.

As 300 guests danced to the music and donated to raffles, they dined on fine food donated by some of the top chefs in NEPA, including Chef Jim Guasto of Grico’s, Chef Michael Langdon of Alter House, Chef Chris Mullin of Glenmaura National Golf Club, Chef Gene Philbin of Peculiar Slurp Shop, and Chef John Tabone of Bar Pazzo.

Organizer and fellow musician Dustin Switzer declared the event “an absolute success.” “We raised more than expected, and the raffles were a huge success. 300 people through the door, and the area’s best bands delivered,” he said.

The only thing better would have been if Wynder himself was there to enjoy it in person, but he was certainly there in spirit and the positive influence he left behind.