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Local musicians host one more show for a friend

WANT TO GO?

Concert for Dick Patton

With Robin Kessinger, Robert Shaffer, Ron Sowell, Jim Snyder, Marco Pinna and more

WHERE: Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main St., St. Albans

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $10 at the door

INFO: 304-661-0655CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At Dick Patton's wake in November, there was a point where mourners broke out the kazoos and played a song.

Jim Snyder, a lifelong friend of the 56-year-old, remembered turning to the preacher and telling him, "I'll bet you've never seen that at a wake before."

Snyder said the preacher looked at him and replied, "No. No, I can't say that I ever have."

On Saturday night, the friends of Patton will come together at the Alban Arts Center in St. Albans to raise money to help reduce the debts the musician left behind. The show features many local singer/songwriters and performers including Snyder, Ron Sowell, Robin Kessinger, Robert Shaffer, Jeff Ellis and Joe Dobbs.

Patton was a regular on the local music scene, mostly seen at open mics held all over the valley. There, Snyder said, he encouraged people to keep playing.

"He was always doing that, always promoting the other guy -- particularly with young people," Snyder said. "He tried to encourage everybody. I know he was always trying to help me keep moving forward."

Snyder said he and Patton met in seventh grade at Nitro Junior High School.

"I was kind of a class clown. He was kind of a class clown. We were always just joking around."

They went their separate ways after junior high because of where each of them lived: Patton went to Poca High School. Snyder went to Nitro. They remained friendly, though, and when Snyder started playing out, he'd see Patton playing some, too.

"He followed me around town for years," Snyder said.

Snyder made a career in music. Patton became an airline pilot.

About 10 years ago, Snyder, who'd left the state, returned to the area. He and Patton started hanging out, talking and playing guitar.

"He was always looking to get something musically going," Snyder said.

In 2006, Patton started an open mic at the old Nitro High School. From there, he went on to host other open mics in Nitro, Hurricane, Elkview and just about anywhere he could get one started. He also performed at others and played gigs here and there, often with friends like Steve Criner.

"I knew Dick for about 40 years," Criner said and laughed. "We met in karate class. Dick was the oldest living white belt. He never took a belt test."

The two played together almost every day. Criner said Patton loved music but never took himself too seriously.

One of the last songs Criner said his friend wrote was one called, "You can't be unhappy in a hammock."

"He liked to make people laugh," Criner said. "He liked to have a good time."

That wasn't always easy according to Criner and Snyder.

"He had a lot of health problems," Snyder said.

Patton couldn't work as a pilot after open-heart surgery, Snyder said. He couldn't work as much of anything and was on medical disability. A diabetic who often didn't manage his disease, his health remained shaky for years, not that anybody knew.

In 2009, Snyder and Patton started the Colesmouth Concert Series at the Alban Arts Center. It began as a showcase for local singer/songwriters, though has since expanded to include both regional and occasionally even international acts, like Mediterranean jazz guitarist Marco Pinna, who will appear Saturday.

However, in October 2009, while the series was still new, Snyder said he got a call from Patton, who told him he'd have to do the show without him.

Patton said, "I'm sorry, I can't make it."

Snyder asked him, "What's up?"

Patton was in the hospital for congestive heart failure. He'd been sick for days, refused to see a doctor and eventually, an ambulance had to be called to take him to the hospital.

Snyder said it wasn't just an unwillingness to seek treatment. Patton struggled financially, and even while he was getting assistance, having nothing to contribute embarrassed him. He'd avoid even getting medicine or going to the doctor if he had nothing to give. 

"Most people didn't know that, either."

Still, Patton's death last year came as a surprise to Snyder and Criner. While often not feeling very well because of his medication regimen, Patton seemed to be doing OK.

"But his organs were shutting down," Snyder said.

He died Nov. 10, 2012, of congestive heart failure.

Snyder and Criner said the concert is a chance for Patton's friends to pay their respects one more time and honor his contribution to the music community, while helping take some of the burden off the wife and college-age daughter he left behind.

"He helped a lot of people," Snyder said.

Criner added, "He was everybody's friend."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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