For the friends and family who loved Dana Bolton, his passing from brain cancer this spring has left a void. For music lovers and musicians, a dearth of live music events because of the coronavirus has been one more layer of hardship on an already challenging landscape. This weekend, two of Bolton’s great passions—sailing and music—line up at the Dana Bolton Flotilla Concert on the waterfront in Burlington.
According to Len Bolton, Dana’s brother, Dana worked to live. An attorney by profession, Dana worked hard so he could retire early and enjoy time with his family in Vermont. Arriving in Charlotte by way of New Jersey, Dana was, his brother said, “an outdoorsman; he loved fishing and sailing.” The brothers bonded over their love of hiking which Dana enjoyed in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains, and the Adirondacks.
Dana was instrumental in fundraising for the Community Sailing Center (CSC) in Burlington as they worked to build their new facility, which was completed in 2017. He also volunteered for many happy hours teaching sailing to children and people with physical disabilities, helping to get as many people out on the water as possible, no matter what their challenges might be.
“Aside from sailing, music was [Dana’s] biggest passion and enjoyment,” Len said. “We didn’t get to see each other that much, but we would listen to something and send emails and text messages to each other: ‘Have you listened to this?’”
The brothers enjoyed traveling to concerts together, including the Newport Folk Festival and, for the last show they attended together, Higher Ground in South Burlington to see Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. “He was so proud to expose me to Higher Ground,” Len said. Though their wives preferred to relax in seats at the back, he said, “We got there nice and early and stood up front.”
This Saturday, Sept. 5, all the seats will be good ones, as the audience for the flotilla concert will be on boats only. Registration for the event and general admission is free, though donations are accepted and will benefit the CSC in Dana’s honor. From 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Ryan Montbleau, the Kat Wright Trio, The Grift, and Dave Grippo will rock the waterfront. Proceeds from the event will support construction of a universally accessible waterfront and scholarship funds to support sailing education for kids, ages six to fourteen, of limited socio-economic means. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be moved to Sept. 6.
As Len said of Dana, “He was quite a guy,” and a concert on the water promises to be quite a night.