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Musicians gather together to honor Jim Groscup

Chip Ellis
Dozens of local musicians will perform Saturday in a benefit for the family of Jim Groscup. Groscup, who died in July, was a fixture on the local music scene for several decades.
WANT TO GO?Bad to the Bone All-Star Jam and Big Band BlowoutA benefit for Jim GroscupWHERE: Atlantis Nightclub, 3024 Chesterfield Ave.WHEN: 5:30 p.m. SaturdayTICKETS: $35INFO: 304-345-8060 www.jimmygroscup.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jeff Flanagan gets a little choked up when he talks about his friend, trombonist Jim Groscup."We were friends for 30 years," Flanagan said. "I'll never have another friend like him -- not in my lifetime."On Saturday night, Flanagan and some of the area's best-known musicians will come together for a benefit for Groscup's family. The show features the Voodoo Katz, Chaz Humley and the Effects, The Carpenter Ants, The Bob Thompson Unit and more. Groscup player died in July due to complications from Pulomary veno-occlusive disease, a rare condition that involves the narrowing or blockages of veins in the lungs. The 54-year-old trombone player was a fixture of the Charleston music scene, a member of several local bands for the last 30 years including Big Planet Soul, the Lincoln Brass Quintet and more recently, as part of the Sweet Lips Big Band, which accompanies Landau Eugene Murphy Jr."He'd have toured with us," said Flanagan, who also performs with the band. "He was just too sick to travel."Flanagan said he and Groscup had known each other for a few years but became friends after Groscup asked him to help with a rehearsal for the University of Charleston Brass Quintet. Groscup was teaching brass methods.After the rehearsal was over, Groscup approached the horn player.Flanagan said, "He told me I played pretty well and asked me if I was interested in playing in a group on a regular basis."
That led to Flanagan joining the Lincoln Brass Quintet and eventually a series of musical collaborations with Groscup that lasted three decades.
"He was in every band I had," Flanagan said. "And we played with all kinds of people. We played with The Temptations, The Spinners, The Four Tops, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles. And we did I don't know how many touring Broadway shows, shows at The Greenbrier."They were friends the entire time."We used to call each other every day," Flanagan said. "For about 26 years, we spoke every day about something."They had a lot of laughs, which Flanagan acknowledged often gravitated toward the juvenile or sophomoric.Years ago, the two of them were playing in the orchestra for a production of "Annie" in Huntington. Before a show, Flanagan said they stopped off to get a bite to eat at Kenny Gs (the restaurant, not the musician's home).
Groscup looked at the menu, then said, "Hey, let's see if we can eat a hundred wings."The two of them ended up ordering 100 chicken wings, four baskets of fries and two pitchers of beer.After their meal, they took the bones to the show."But we got there two hours early and wiped the bones on the edge of the stage."During the musical, when Little Orphan Annie is trying to save the stray mutt that will become Sandy, the young actress had to call the dog to her -- something that had been rehearsed dozens of times."And the dog was trained," Flanagan added.Only this time, the dog couldn't resist the smell of chicken grease. Instead of coming as called, it bolted for the front of the stage and began licking the floor."The whole place just died laughing," he said.The show Saturday is to benefit Groscup's wife and two stepdaughters. Flanagan said the response from the local music community has been very gratifying. Most of the musicians performing at the show played with Groscup at one time or another. He was well remembered by many of them."Jimmy was just a gentle giant, a really great guy and a fine trombone player," Flanagan said. "He was my friend."Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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