Before the week is out, Donald Bracken will load up his white Ford pickup truck and head north from the Orient Point Ferry straight to Boston. But first the Southold resident will drive to Crossroads Music in Amagansett to pick up some precious cargo—a brand new Takamine acoustic guitar that he plans on hand delivering to Boston Marathon bomb survivor Jeff Bauman Jr. on behalf of dozens of music lovers all over the East End.
The guitar, which currently includes approximately 100 signatures from local musicians and supporters, is a symbol of hope to be given to the man who lost both legs during the bombing. The heroic 27-year-old double amputee—who helped the FBI quickly catch Tamerlan Tsarnaev by writing down his description of the bomber upon awakening in his hospital bed at Boston Medical Center—loves playing the guitar, according to interviews given by his father, Jeff Bauman, immediately after the bombings on April 15.
Mr. Bauman’s pluck, and his love of music, instantly inspired musician Bryan Downey—a Sag Harbor resident, owner of Bulldog Studios NY and the mastermind behind the Hamptons Singer Songwriters group of musicians who perform at a variety of local venues—to get the ball rolling on the gift idea. He immediately organized a fundraiser for Mr. Bauman, which was held at the North Sea Tavern on April 18 and raised $500.
Mr. Downey used that money to purchase the guitar, at cost, from Michael Clark at Crossroads. Soon afterward, anonymous donors contributed another $100, he reported during a telephone interview on Sunday. That additional money was used to purchase guitar strings, a case, a capo (“the little clip-on thing,” Mr. Downey explained) and a tuner, which will also travel with Mr. Bracken during his trip to Beantown.
The quick outpouring of support here in the Hamptons was incredible, Mr. Downey reported. Even though the fundraiser was a last-minute production, a few dozen people showed up to the North Sea Tavern gig and contributed money, including Hamptons Singer Songwriters Chuck Finch, Mr. Bracken, Katherine CHE, Ken Morsch, Johnny Cicc, Andrew Merrill, Dick Johanssen, Fred Raimondo, Wolfman and Vicki, Glenn and Barberi Feit, Bob Kohurt, Walter Noller, Christian De’lastrade, Skylar Kelleher, Butch, and Mariann Megna.
Then there was Mr. Clark, a supporter of many local causes and non-profit organizations, whose price break enabled the purchase of a “top-of-the-line guitar with all the bells and whistles,” Mr. Downey reported. And of course, there were all the musicians who put their John Hancocks on the guitar, he added.
“It’s signed by 100 singers and audience members with messages of love, hope and well wishes,” he said.
The act of charity was swift and successful, and not at all surprising, Mr. Clark said. He was quick to point out that it was Mr. Downey, along with many other East End performers, who deserve credit for this generous act.
“Bryan did a great job organizing this initiative,” he wrote in an email on Sunday. “It’s amazing how often it’s the musicians—who quite often aren’t paid themselves—jump up to do these events. It’s the most supportive group of individuals I’ve ever met.”
Mr. Bracken, a guitarist who frequently joins Mr. Downey and other South Fork-based musicians on stage, agreed.
“It’s a great community of musicians here on the East End,” he said. “We all pull together, the spirit of cooperation between musicians here is unbelievable. It’s always ‘how can I help?’”
The stage-four cancer survivor, who connected with Mr. Bauman initially through his Facebook tribute page, said that he’s excited to bring the guitar to the spirited young man in person.
“I don’t want to get all heavy but as a survivor I know there is a plan,” Mr. Bracken said. “His living through this thing has meaning. It’s a tragedy, for sure, but there are great things coming down the pike for him, I just know it.”
“And I can’t wait to hand that guitar over to him.”