Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By Vic Clevenger
FCE Staff 

Let's Go to the Islands


Last updated 9/28/2016 at 3:25pm | View PDF

When most people start thinking about 'the islands' their minds begin to drift to the Caribbean. There the bluest water you've seen washes over your sun kissed toes as you lay on the beach working on your tan. Perhaps you think about the cruise you took island hoping from Jamaica to the Bahamas to the Caymans. My uncle likes to talk about the time he flew to Hawaii to visit Paradise. Living in Florida, my mind immediately drifts to eating the best key lime pie I've ever had while vacationing in the Keys. But not the folks of Northern New York, they think about the 1000 Islands that dot the St. Lawrence River.

I had the opportunity to visit the region over looking what I have deemed the "Keys of the North" three years ago when there to perform for the Clayton Country Jam and I've been back each year since. With island names like Wolf and Whiskey you soon realize you're in a unique area with a great history causing those who visit to fall in love. There is even an island with a castle on it so how could you go wrong when visiting. Oh, don't even get me started on the fishing and wildlife, which for an avid sportsman, whispers in your ear, "There's no place like this place."

However, it's the people of this area that you really remember. They are not presumptuous, haughty or closed off, just the opposite in fact. The people I've met range from business owners to inventors to clerks to servers and you can't tell the difference unless you just flat out ask. This is the kind of humble spirit and work, which birthed the Clayton Country Jam. For six years this event has brought up and coming bands along with nationally named acts together to raise some money for various charities. This year saw no difference with one exception, the move to the TI Winery which opened the event to even more attendees.

From the first joke told Friday night to kick off the event to the last note sang by country legend, John Anderson and all the new faces in-between, the Clayton Country Jam was a celebration. This year, organizer, Mac MacFarlane decided it would celebrate dedication. The dedication of the first responders who look after our neighborhoods. The dedication of our military who line up to go where needed when called upon. Then there's the 75 years of USO dedication to lift the spirits of those serving regardless of where those troops are stationed. Finally, it's a celebration of the sacrifice given by those brave men and women who sought the safety of people they didn't even know.

As the sun rose and set on the islands scattered in the St. Lawrence each day, I witnessed a celebration of music, of strength and of living. This is what the Clayton Country Jam encompasses. This is what the 1000 islands encompass.

Vic Clevenger


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