Young musicians are often discouraged by the industry.

Ridgefield High School’s band director, Mike McNamara, wants that to change, which is why he’s been putting on a concert at RHS the past three years.

This June will mark the fourth annual FunkRaiser, an event organized by students and McNamara himself to raise funds for the high school’s music program — and give kids a chance to see what successful and local musicians do.

“It’s important for them to see that people can make a career and make a living out of music,” he said.

Local rock and jam bands will come out to showcase their talent June 2, and give Ridgefield families an evening of musical entertainment.

The money raised helps the band director organize out-of-the-box activities that the kids wouldn’t normally get a chance to participate in.

“It’s nice to have supplementary funds to provide the kids with cooler opportunities beyond the norm,” McNamara said.

Ridgefielder Tommy Weeks, a saxophonist for the band Funky Dawgz, plays a big part in the initiative. His band has been involved from the very beginning.

McNamara said Weeks is the perfect role model for aspiring musicians in high school.

“Any way we can help the younger musicians to keep their enthusiasm,” said Weeks.

“As generations go by, if nobody is excited about playing then the scene would die out, so we’ve gotta keep it going.”

Weeks said it’s important for teens to see that it is indeed possible to make a career out of music.

“I liked it when people did that for us,” he said.

“That would get me all excited, thinking, ‘Look at this dude who does this as a profession — I want to do that, too.’”

Weeks and a few members of the Funky Dawgz also volunteer with an after-school program in Hartford, offering children lessons and opportunities to perform.

“It’s cool for them to experience that and get up on stage,” said Weeks.

Gigs like the FunkRaiser are one of the things that inspire Weeks and his band the most.

“It’s very rewarding,” he said.

“You get to see how we can directly benefit the students, and actually interact with them.”

Outdoors festival

The FunkRaiser has been growing and changing with each passing year.

McNamara said that this year they’re going to try something different.

Instead of the regular show at the Playhouse, they will be holding the event outdoors in the style of a music festival.

The event is open to the public, and will feature the Funky Dawgz as the headliner as well as the high school jazz band and McNamara’s band, Relative Souls.

The band director said all families are welcome. There will be activities for little kids put on by different high school clubs, as well as food from local vendors.

Last year they were able to raise almost $2,000, according to McNamara.

Pre-sale tickets became available starting Monday, April 17.

The FunkRaiser will take place at RHS Friday, June 2.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page: