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Friday, May 8, 2015

The Kevin Chabiel Music Festival - It's history and future vision

by Debbie Castleberry

In 1975, two young students met in band while attending Cherry Avenue junior high school. Kevin Chabiel played the saxophone and Warren Castleberry played the trumpet. Under the direction of Susan Shaghoian (now Susan Burley) they both blossomed into accomplished musicians and went on to the play in the concert, jazz, and marching bands.

After graduating junior high, they both attended Tulare Union High School and were fortunate to be mentored and taught by the esteemed band director Bill Ingram. They participated in the jazz, concert, marching and honor bands all four years, playing in the Pasadena Rose Bowl parade, Hollywood Christmas parade, Portland Rose Festival, Disneyland, Canada and many other local and National events. The experiences they shared for those six years would bond them for a lifetime. Neither Kevin nor Warren could know the path that lay ahead of them.

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Shortly after high school, Warren's life would take him out of California and away from his friends and family for many years. In 2005, while living in Illinois, Warren was hit by a farming truck while riding his motorcycle to work. He was critically injured and lost his left leg. His rehabilitation was long and in his desire to rebuild his life he made the decision to return to his hometown of Tulare California.

Warren has recently become the recipient of a running blade and named an ambassador for the state of California for the Amputee Blade Runners. The Amputee Blade Runners is a national charity organization that provides free athletic prosthetics to amputees who wish to promote and stay in an active life style. Warren will be completing his fifth marathon event this spring.

Kevin on Sax

During Warren's time away from the central valley area Kevin continued to play his saxophone and also became an accomplished keyboardist. Kevin worked with many local and national artists. Working on commercials, promotional videos, and performing live anytime he could. Some of the bands Kevin worked with were: Ruckus, which opened for John Michael Montgomery, 198 Express, and Class Action. While working full time driving truck for J.D. Heiskell and Co., Kevin still managed to mentor many musicians, as well as volunteer his time to those in need. In doing so, Kevin cultivated a reputation of respect and was loved by many.

In 2009, shortly after Warren returned home, the two friends reunited through a mutual friend and vocalist Gina Taylor and quickly picked up where they left off. By this time, Kevin was becoming involved in recording and sound mixing, which was also a passion of Warren's. Kevin had started a new band called Class Action and asked his long time friend to join him running the sound, which Warren was happy to do. The two spent long hours rehearsing and performing with the band and their friendship blossomed.

In 2014, Kevin began to experience frequent stomach pain and his friends and family noticed that he was not quite himself. Under the urging of his mother Josie, Kevin went to see his doctor. The news was shocking. Kevin was diagnosed with stage four inoperable pancreatic cancer. His friends and family were devastated. Kevin was always a person with a very positive attitude and he never wanted anyone around him to be sad and never liked to be the center of attention. Regardless of what level of musician he played with during his career he always made those around him feel as if it was his honor to be with them, and never saw himself above anyone. Kevin vowed to fight this disease with this same positive attitude. He continued to plan his life as if he wasn't sick. He had become an avid gun enthusiast and still wanted the family to get together at the shooting range and continue to do the other things they all normally enjoyed together. On October 24, 2014, Kevin lost his battle with cancer. Until the day he passed he was still making others smile.

Because music was such a large part of Kevin's life his friends, family, and fellow musicians came together following his funeral to honor him with music. It was during this tribute that the dream to keep Kevin's memory and music alive was born. Warren's wife Debbie was inspired to do what Kevin always did, give joy and promote togetherness through music.

Soon there after Debbie and Warren asked Kevin's family members for permission to create the Annual Kevin Chabiel Music Festival. The dream was to host an annual music festival to benefit charities and Kevin's music scholarship that would feature local, and hopefully at some point, national artists. Honoring Kevin's vision that music is a passion and art form to be enjoyed by all. Kevin's family was in complete support and thrilled that Kevin's legacy would live on. Working together with the Castleberry's the planning for the dinner and concert began.

This year's inaugural festival will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Kevin and his band Class Action donated their talents to LLS and supported their mission of raising awareness and funds to provide life saving research for blood cancers, as well as patient and family services. As members of Team in Training, an endurance sports training team that raises money for LLS, the Castleberrys suggested the charity. Because Kevin's life was taken by cancer and his previous support of LLS, everyone involved agreed it was the best charity for the first festival.

Finding the bands for the concert was an easy task. Because Kevin was so well known and loved by so many musicians, everyone that was asked to participate in the fundraiser agreed to do so, donating all of their time and talents to the cause. Because of the generosity of so many friends, family and community members that were willing to sponsor this event and make it a reality, the dream has grown from a small gathering to a large dinner and concert for the entire community to enjoy. Partnering with larger sponsors J.D. Heiskell and Pride Electric, The Kevin Chabiel Music Festival has become a reality.

The artists who will be performing for the festival are: Califas, The Charades, Rene Emilio, 3 and the Machine featuring Gina Taylor, Eddie Hernandez, The Heat, Landes Dung, and DJ Beat Rock, most of who performed with Kevin and were long time friends. Many raffle prizes were donated to include a guitar by Whites Music.

Tickets are $30.00 per person and can be purchased by visiting the festival's website at www.kcmusicfestival.org. Your ticket includes dinner and the concert. The concert will be taking place on May 16 at 5 p.m., at The Tulare Ag Center, 4500 S. Laspina St. in Tulare.

All proceeds will benefit LLS.

If you would like to learn more about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society please visit www.lls.org.

Debbie Castleberry has 24 years working with non-profit organizations and has been both a participant and mentor with the Central Valley Chapter of Team In Training. She has completed eleven half marathons, one full marathon, and will be completing her twelfth half marathon on May 31 in San Diego.

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