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Victim's Band Sits Out A Memorial

September 11, 1987|RANDY LEWIS | Times Staff Writer

Even the worthiest of causes framed with the best intentions can succumb to pitfalls, a point that serves as the ironic backdrop of Saturday's memorial concert for Orange County rock musician Stacey Moskewich, who died in April after being struck by a car driven by a man who was accused of drunk driving.

Although seven local bands will perform in the free, daylong event at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, one name conspicuous in its absence from the concert's lineup is that of the Bell Jar, Moskewich's group since the fall of 1985.

After Moskewich's death, Bell Jar members Gregory Yalch, Brian Way and David Settles decided not to disband the group and recruited Ron Dreeden from Language Blue to take over on bass.

But the Bell Jar will not perform Saturday because of what various parties describe as "a breakdown in communications," a situation individuals on both sides of the issue were hesitant to discuss this week for fear of tainting the memorial.

At first, the concept of a memorial triggered differences of opinion over whether Moskewich herself would have approved, differences that led some of her friends to withdraw support from the event. But all have since tried to downplay any problems so that the show can proceed as a tribute.

Scheduled to perform at the memorial, which begins at 1 p.m. at the college's outdoor amphitheater, are Children's Day, Exobiota, 5th Estate, Gazebo T-Shirt, the Difference, Sullivan Substation and Johnny Romeo & His Modernaires.

"There are a lot of good bands that will be there," said Jack Moskewich, Stacey's father. "Because of circumstances beyond our control, we just couldn't connect (with the Bell Jar). . . . I hope it will be a happy, upbeat atmosphere. We don't want it to be morbid or anything else."

Bell Jar guitarist Brian Way said Tuesday: "It's a big misunderstanding. We feel as much loss as anybody. . . . We would like to play if they would still have us."

On Wednesday, however, concert organizer John Dunlap defended his decision to leave the Bell Jar out of the show, saying: "I had to go with a lineup of people who were committed to being there and had demonstrated their interest. Personally, I think it's a shame they are not going to be there."

Much of the Orange County rock community was shocked and saddened at the death of Moskewich, 19, in April. (An Orange County jury is deliberating this week in the trial of the car's driver, Ronald Dahlke.)

So Moskewich's friends and fellow musicians decided to hold a memorial for her in the form of a concert. The organizers had trouble finding a site for the show that didn't require costly liability insurance. Golden West College officials agreed to open their facilities if a sponsor could be found. That obstacle was overcome when the Orange County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers agreed to sponsor the memorial.

The bands on the lineup, according to Dunlap, were chosen because they had either shared local bills with the Bell Jar or included friends of Moskewich, who used the name Anna (or Anastasia) when she was in Bell Jar.

"I was friends with Anna," said Russell Scott of Children's Day. "I don't know about the politics of who's playing, who's not playing. To us, it's a tribute, and we're just going to play for our friend."

In addition to the music, there will be brief speeches by Moskewich's mother, Sandy, and sister, Debbie; Sam Lanni and Gil Fuhrer, former owners of Safari Sam's nightclub and close friends of Stacey, and Pat Croft, president of the Orange County chapter of M.A.D.D. The concert will conclude with "a slide show highlighting Stacey's life," Jack Moskewich said.

Lanni said: "The theme of my speech is going to be what would Stacey want to see if she came back (to Orange County) in 10 years. I think I know Stacey pretty well; I talked to her for hours and hours and hours. She had a really honest down-to-earth viewpoint. All these other things going on over the memorial is ridiculous."

Moskewich was graduated from La Quinta High School in Huntington Beach in 1985 and was majoring in music at Golden West College, her father said. A memorial scholarship in Stacey's name has been established and will be awarded to a La Quinta High School music student to pursue music studies in college.

(Requests for information or contributions should be addressed to: Stacey Renee Moskewich Music Scholarship, P.O. Box 4391, Huntington Beach 92605.)

The memorial event will also provide a forum for M.A.D.D. to get across a message about the dangers of drinking and driving.

"Drinking and driving is the number one cause of death among teen-agers age 16 to 19," said Janet Cater, director of the Orange County M.A.D.D. chapter, which will have an information booth set up and will accept donations on Saturday.

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