Moon River Jamboree honors and benefits local students

Blue Sky will host Mountain Town Music fundraiser

Moon River Jamboree


Moon River Jamboree schedule of events

Note: the dress code is black tie/blue jean — fancy country-western attire

  • 5 p.m. — Guests will meet at Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Blvd., and will be chauffeured by Snow Country luxury motor coaches to Blue Sky Ranch
  • 6 p.m. — Cocktail reception with live music by Freedog
  • 7:30 p.m. — Welcome and live auction, and presentation of scholarships
  • 8:30 p.m. — Dancing to Dustbowl Revival
  • 10 p.m. — Shuttle back to Park City
Mountain Town Music’s Moon River Jamboree was held last year at Woodenshoe Park in Peoa, above. This year’s event, scheduled for July 15, will be held at Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship. The event is a fundraiser for Mountain Town Music’s Michael James Richards Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships and funding for the nonprofit’s programs.
Photo by Jamy Beecher Photography

Mountain Town Music is more than just a concert producer in Summit County.

It is a local nonprofit that knows and utilizes the power of music to benefit the community as a whole, and give youths ways to express themselves and, perhaps, open doors to a career in music, said Brian Richards, Mountain Town Music’s community conductor of musical affairs.

“I let things happen organically,” he said. “If there is a need that comes up, we’ll provide.”

One of those needs will be showcased at the second annual Moon River Jamboree on June 15 at Blue Sky Ranch.

Once they get on stage they have the ability to shine through their instruments.” Brian Richards, Mountain Music’s community conductor of musical affairs

That’s when Mountain Town Music will award more than $20,000 in scholarships to four Summit County high school students. It will also award continued musical education support to two of last year’s scholarship winners, as well as a grant to Park City Song Camps presented by Mary Beth Maziarz for Summit County youths, according to Richards.

The 2023 Scholarship Winners are as follows:

  • Adan Monzalo – South Summit High School
  • Tyler Kaufman – Park City High School
  • Maya Drayton – Park City High School 
  • Oliver Moore – Park City High School 

Tyler Kaufman, who graduates Park City High School this year, expressed his gratitude in a statement. 

“Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity,” he said. “I am honored to receive this scholarship and award! These funds will, without a doubt, greatly assist me in continuing my education.”

Like Kaufman, Drayton will be a 2023 Park City High School graduate, and she also feels honored to receive the scholarship.

“I am so incredibly grateful to have been awarded a scholarship,” said Drayton. “As a financially independent student, this award is incredibly important to me and I am very pleased to be able to continue funding my Music Education aspirations studying at the University of Utah. This certainly makes the financial burden less of a worry for me.”

Moore, who will major in cello performance at the Mead Witter School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also conveyed his gratitude.

“I feel very honored to be awarded this scholarship and I am enthusiastically accepting it,” he said. “The funds will help me pay my music school tuition, but the honor of getting this award has given me a big boost of confidence. I really appreciate this incredible music community and I promise to pay it forward in the future.”

The two students who will receive continued musical education are:

  • Nina Gayard –  New York University
  • Zane Jensen – University of Utah Honors College

Gayard, who is studying dramatic production and design at New York University, said she is “thriving” because of the ongoing support. 

“The first semester finished swimmingly,” she said. “I just finished working as a production assistant to the stage manager on the classic musical, ‘The Three Penny Opera’ by Bertolt Brecht.” 


Richards noticed that many of the students who applied for the scholarships all use music as a way to communicate and build confidence.

“A lot of these students are kids who may be shy, but once they get on stage they have the ability to shine through their instruments,” he said. “To see the impact we have on kids who utilize music as a way to overcome a number of issues and become the best versions of themselves is pretty awesome.”

The money for these scholarships and grants are provided through Mountain Town Music’s Michael James Richards Memorial Fund. This fund was created in honor of Richards’ son who died unexpectedly in the fall of 2019.

Jensen, currently an honors student who is studying jazz and classical performance as a double major at the University of Utah, wanted to pay his respects.

“I really appreciate that this is even a possibility, and I do keep Michael in mind as I pursue my passion for music,” he said. “It has been amazing to be able to devote my time and attention to music thanks to your investment in me and my love of music. “

Singer and songwriter Freedog, also known as Bryon Friedman, will perform at the 2023 Moon River Jamboree on June 15 at Blue Sky Ranch.
Courtesy of Bryon Friedman

In addition to the scholarships, Michael James Richards Memorial Fund supports other Mountain Town Music programming, including music programming at the Park City Senior Center, healing sound baths, and an audio/engineering internship program, Brian Richards said.

“The engineering program not only involves real-world experience at our concerts throughout the summer, … it is the only accredited audio/engineering internship program in the state of Utah,” he said. “We work with students at Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, and the University of Utah. It has benefited Park City High School and South Summit High School students.”

The Moon River Jamboree, which will run from 5-10 p.m., not only serves as a platform to award these scholarships and grants. It’s also a fundraiser for Mountain Town Music’s Michael James Richards Memorial Fund.

Money will be raised through ticket sales and a live auction, which includes, but is not limited to, a weekend stay at Blue Sky Ranch, two Door-to-Door concert packages, and a Wine Festival Weekend getaway.

The evening will also include craft cocktails, culinary delights, and live music performed by Dustbowl Revival and local singer-songwriter Bryon Friedman, also known as Freedog. (See accompanying schedule).

“We have talked a lot about creating a sustainable music community, and through this fund, we can potentially support 14-year-old students at Mary Beth’s Song Camp,” he said. “Those students may also receive our scholarships to study music in college, and those students should also receive our continuing support throughout their collegiate careers.” 

The 2023 Moon River Jamboree is the second annual event of its kind, Richards said.

“We started it last year in Peoa, and it was a huge success,” he said. “It brought the community together for a great cause, and it continues to be a good opportunity to support the youth of Summit County.”

Richards is stoked that Blue Sky Ranch wants to host this year’s event.

“It’s a beautiful venue, and run by awesome people,” he said. “It means something special when people like them step up to support us. We’re excited about this partnership.”


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