Despite a cloudy day, there was an air of celebration for attendees to the Patrick Kisicki Memorial Music Festival at Carroll Community College on Sept. 14.

With six bands presenting a variety of music, children’s games and activities, food trucks and more, it was not only a celebration of music, but the celebration of a life that brought music to so many.

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Eric McCullough said he first met Kisicki over 12 years ago.

“We were both students in Towson University’s music program and studied with the same guitar professor, Michael Decker,” said McCullough, who is a department chair in music at Carroll Community College. “In addition to being a very gifted musician, Patrick always had a ready smile and was incredibly supportive of his peers.”

McCullough said Kisicki was, in fact, the one who put his name in to become an adjunct guitar instructor at Carroll Community, back in 2014.

“At Carroll Community College, Patrick directed the guitar department, taught applied guitar lessons, Guitar Ensemble, History of Rock and Roll, and Fundamentals of Music courses,” McCullough said.

After Kisicki died suddenly from cancer in March 2015, McCullough felt driven to find a way to keep his memory alive.

“It was a tremendous loss to the music department and the entire student body,” he said. “He had given so much of himself to the school and the students.”

Not long after, Amanda DeRose, coordinator of student activities and leadership in student life at Carroll Community, suggested a music festival.

“I go to music festivals all the time,” DeRose said. “[That summer], I was at one and I just thought we should be doing this at the college. When I brought it back to work, Eric said he had been wanting to do one as well.”

After meeting with the college’s foundation, a decision was made to dedicate the festival to Kisicki’s memory and to have all proceeds go toward the music he loved, funding a music scholarship in his name.

In the summer of 2016, the Patrick Kisicki Memorial Music Festival was born. McCullough and DeRose strive to make it a festival with music for all. McCullough said he likes to represent a wide range of music from those who knew Kisicki and those who did not.

“Having artists from different genres perform gives the event stylistic diversity,” he said. “We also feature musicians who are at different levels in their musical career; from student ensembles and student bands to regionally and nationally established artists. This year we featured genres ranging from jazz, indie, rock, singer-songwriter and pop.”

The lineup included the college’s Jazz Combo, and the bands When Thunder Comes, The Revived, Nikia Yung, Fantasm, and Jerry Wade and Sweet Blue Moons

“One highlight we look forward to every year is a performance from Jerry Wade and Sweet Blue Moons,” McCullough said. “Jerry is an adjunct guitar faculty member at CCC and was one of Patrick’s best friends. He always assembles an incredible group of musicians to outfit his band."

Musicians who were not there to perform were there to support. Annapolis resident Bobbi Leigh is lead singer for the band Dirty Shame. She was on the scene as well.

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“We are all kind of friends and connected,” Leigh said. “We came to support our musician friends. We love to support each other. A lot of schools can’t afford to give out music scholarships anymore, so this is great. We need to bring more music and art back into the schools.”

David Cawkwell, lead guitar and lead singer of the band When Thunder Comes, said this was their second year to do the benefit.

“It’s the college, it is a music event and we have heard that Patrick was a really special guy,” Cawkwell said. “We will come back as long as they ask us.”

Cawkwell, whose band has been together for 35 years and through 10 albums, said all the bands perform for free because they understand the value of this benefit.

Performer Nikia Yung agreed.

“Being a part of the Invincible Summer Music Festival is such a special gift to remember Patrick and to keep his memory and musicianship alive,” she said. “He was the kindest, most encouraging, and positive person ... an incredible teacher and friend. The fact that there is a music scholarship in his name is a testament to his character. We’re all honored to be a part of this.”

Kisicki’s passion for music led him to make sure music was accessible. He was involved with many local music courses, conducting conducted ensembles and coordinating the guitar department at Carroll Community. He also taught at Peabody Preparatory, West Middle School, Encore Summer Music Camp, Maryland Performing Arts Institute and at Coffey Music. He even performed regularly in the Tri-State area, most notably in The Table Top Poets and Wildfire Three.

In addition, he generously donated his time to organize and direct the semiannual fundraiser, Kevin’s Concert — an event he’d conceived to raise funds and awareness about organ donation. For that, he was named Volunteer of the Year in 2009 by the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland.

Seated on the hill facing the amphitheater, Henry and Kim Thorpe were with their daughter Kennady Thorpe and her friend Daniel Mihm. True music lovers, they had more than one reason to attend.

“Kennady was awarded the scholarship,” Henry Thorpe said with a smile. “We are excited to see the different bands here. There’s a nice variety in the lineup with different styles.”

Kennady Thorpe, a freshman at Carroll Community College who plays the guitar and sings, said she came to support her brothers and sisters in music, and because she was thankful.

“I do rock, and I do pop music and sometimes indie and slower-styled songs,” she said. “I’m in the rock ensemble here. I am excited and grateful.”

In addition to Thorpe, music student Ethan Warfield also won a scholarship this year. His primary instrument is the violin. Both he and Thorpe are Associate of Fine Arts music majors, and each received a $1,000 award.

DeRose said that is what this is all about.

“All the money we raise, all the proceeds go towards the music scholarship,” she said. “It’s very exciting. Music brings out happiness in people, so having an event like this that is carefree is great, especially at a college. We are not only teaching music but showing how it can be put toward a future.”

As the crowd rolled in, setting up chairs and spreading blankets on the hill, DeRose reflected.

“Patrick was not only a guitar teacher here, he was super affluent in the area,” she said. “He did so much with guitar and music and was a beloved teacher. We just want to honor him and honor future students.”

Lois Szymanski can be reached at 443-293-7811 or LoisSzymanski@hotmail.com.

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