Next month will mark one year since Mary Larke Pewitt Godfrey lost her son, Deep Ellum fixture Sean Ashford, and gained a following she never expected, via Sean's friends. Overwhelmed first by loss and later by support and adulation, Godfrey and her new following of Deep Ellumites who knew and loved her son founded the Sean Ashford Music Fund.
Ashford, 43, was a regular fixture in Deep Ellum...especially at Black Swan for refreshments, and at live music shows of all shapes and sizes. Ashford worked for CSI, Inc; a company that provides insurance policy coverage for special events..many of which were outdoor festival type shows. It was a dream job for Sean because, since childhood, he was hooked on concerts. His job afforded him access (like, sweet access) to bigger shows in the area, and his deep love for live music brought him to the local music scene in Dallas searching for even more of the same, where he supported and attended shows from a tall stack of our best bands. His local tastes ran the gamut; and Ashford was a fan of local rockabilly, metal, indie and a lot of in-between genres.
He was lost in July of last year after an accident on his motorcycle while traveling from Lee Harveys to Deep Ellum.
Since that time, Mary Godfrey has become quite immersed in the local music community herself....running the Sean Ashford Music Fund. The foundation raised its initial round of funds by auctioning off Sean's immense (and largely autographed) collection of music memorabilia. The funds are diverted towards charities that focus on music education for kids.
So, where did Sean's taste for music and shows begin? I gather you had something to do with it.
Sean loved music from the time he was very little. I bought him a set of drums when he was 7 yrs. old. He was a natural playing the drums. Later, when he was in high school, he had a band and would go to the recording studio with Hollis and record some of the songs. Hollis also played drums, so he and Sean became very close due to their love for music. I took Sean to his first concert. Elvis Presley in OKC in 1977, 6 weeks before Elvis died. The second concert I took Sean to was in Dallas to see the Beach Boys. We had quite a time.
He didn't seem to be particularly partial to one genre. He just loved live rock and roll in general, right?
Sean loved all kinds of music, including country, disco, pop and rock & roll. He loved the Beatles, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Who, Journey, Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick. Too many to name. He just loved all types of music. He also instilled the love for music in his sister, Ashley. They would play games while listening to the radio to see which one could name the group playing.
Sean was close with KEGL's Chris Ryan, I know. It was Chris' idea to start a foundation in his name?
Chris Ryan & (CSI General Manager) James Chippendale suggested to us that we should start a music fund in Sean's honor. After the shock of this terrible accident, we organized our board and (Godfrey's huband) Hollis, being an attorney, filed for our 501-c non profit organization permit. I became the Chairman of the Music Fund, and our first event to raise money was at the House Of Blues. I got donations and we had a silent auction. Our biggest event was on March 28, 2012 at the House of Blues to auction Sean's music memorabilia, which would have been his 44th birthday. It was a huge success.
It was! Congratulations on raising over $12,000.00.
Michael Insuaste, who did our web site for the Music Fund also appraised all of Sean's memorabilia for our silent & live auction at the House of Blues. Michael has been a fantastic asset to our success.
You wanted to the money to go towards music education for kids. What were your charity choices?
We donated money to Anthropos Arts in Austin that helps youth with their music lessons. We also have donated money to RockME http://www.rockmeonline.com/ , a charity in Dallas, to buy instruments to loan to students and their charity is also working with the Ronald McDonald House. We are in the process of donating to West Band Booster, in West, Texas, since their middle school was destroyed by the explosion.
What's next? I know it doesn't end here.
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We are planning a bike run on September 29th to raise money for the music fund. We'll start in Lewisville and the bikers will ride approximately 75 miles and return to a designated place in Lewisville for prizes.
When I talked to you last fall, you said this foundation has become a fulltime job for you.
Yes, since I am Chairman of my son's Music Fund, with the help of others, we are planning to have two to three fund raisers a year to raise as much money as possible to give us the opportunity to help students throughout Texas pursue their music career. Sean would be so proud we are doing this, since music was his life. He attended practically every concert in the Dallas area. My thanks go to the member of our board, my Vice Chairman, Chris Ryan, and especially Michael Insuaste for all of his help. Donations can be made through PayPal on the ashfordmusicfund.org web site.