A Musical Tribute to the Life of John Starr

By Kathy Knotts 

The Chesapeake region’s music community will celebrate the life of the late John E. Starr Jr. with a tribute concert June 24 (6-9pm) at StageOne (3 Park Place), home to MC3 in Annapolis. Attendees should bring lawn chairs, blankets and coolers. 

  The musician was an Annapolis resident for most of his life and contributed to the musical landscape and cultural life of the Baltimore-Washington-Annapolis triangle as well as the Eastern Shore.   

Organizers say the free event will give friends, fans, students and the larger community a glimpse into the life and range of the talented multi-instrumentalist and composer, who was killed in a car accident on Easter Sunday at the age of 68. In addition to commemorating his life, the tribute kicks off a fundraising campaign for an endowment to fund a scholarship in his name.   

The John Starr Memorial Musician’s Fund was created to carry forth his legacy in teaching and music performance excellence. It is a component fund at the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County and is designated to support Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians (AMFM). The fund will provide an annual scholarship to be awarded by AMFM to an Anne Arundel County high school age and above student pursuing an education in the field of music.  

Thursday’s musical guests will include many of Maryland’s finest artists and represent five decades of Starr’s career. Lifelong friends who shared the stage with him in a wide variety of musical genres will perform and offer personal vignettes.  

The concert begins with a performance by an ensemble from the Annapolis Chorale led by Music Director Ernest Green and featuring soloists Katherine Riddle (vocalist) and James Dickey (oboe).  Other artists set to perform include singer, actress and composer Parris Lane and singer Sue Matthews, who performed with Starr during their days at Washington College in Chestertown. Elizabeth Melvin will also appear, having performed with Matthews and Starr in the eight-piece Annapolis jazz fusion band Wooden Hands. Stef Scaggiari (piano and vocals), vocalist Tony Spencer and bassist Mark Russell will perform as well as Dick Rausch (guitar and vocals) and Dick Glass (flugelhorn and piano), who joined Starr in many musical configurations over the years. 

Starr’s bandmates in a Christian rock band that played Sundays at St. Bartholomew’s in Bethesda will also perform, plus musicians from Starr’s time spent leading the jam session at 49 West in Annapolis. 

Drummer R. Kevin Whisman has been the chief organizer of the event and instrumental in setting up a scholarship in Starr’s name. The scholarship honors Starr’s legacy as a mentor of up-and-coming musicians and a popular teacher at Key School in Annapolis.  

Donations to the endowment are being accepted: