Folksinger to give benefit show

by Mark Herman | 11/7/03 6:00am

Folksinger Walkin' Jim Stoltz, who is inspired to write his music while he hikes, will bring his unique multimedia show, Forever Wild, to Filene Auditorium Sunday evening, as a fundraiser for the Guy Waterman Alpine Stewardship Fund.

In addition to his music, Stoltz will share poetry, stories and slides of his hiking adventures to make the event an "inspiring journey into our nation's wilderness areas," the Waterman Fund said in a press release.

Forever Wild will focus on Stoltz's adventures in the Utah Wildlands, the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, as well as a walk from Yellowstone to the Yukon.

In total, Stoltz has walked 25,000 miles through North American wild country since he hiked the Appalachian Train in 1974, giving him the name Walkin' Jim.

"In the early '70s, he got an itch about going out and hiking ... that got him hooked," said Stoltz's friend Al Sochard, who is also a volunteer for the Waterman fund, helping to organize the event.

Stoltz carries a guitar with him and writes his songs while he walks. What results are lyrics that express his great love and respect for the wilderness.

"It's sort of clear and concise, and the message is always the same -- it's about the wilderness," Sochard said about Stoltz's music.

Stoltz, a 30-year veteran of musical performance, is known for his powerful baritone and emotional vocals. His eight recordings are regularly played on National Public Radio.

"He's pretty well known across the country in folk circles," Sochard said. "He's got that sort of folk sound."

For his work, Stoltz has gained favor from environmentalists, winning the Environmental Protection Agency's outstanding achievement award. Stoltz is also the co-founder of Musicians United to Sustain the Environment, an organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for conservation and environmental issues.

Proceeds from this Sunday's show will benefit the Guy Waterman Alpine Stewardship Fund, which supports work to preserve the open summits, exposed ridgelines and alpine areas of the Northeast.

"Walkin' Jim stands for the wilderness, and the Alpine Stewardship Fund is basically supporting that idea of wilderness," Sochard said.

According to Sochard, the fund gives out approximately $15,000 each year, but would like to expand the amount in future years as the fund grows.

Last year, the Waterman Fund financed projects for the DOC, the Green Mountain Club, the U.S. Forest Service and the Appalachian Mountain Club.

"This is an important fundraiser for an organization that has really helped out the DOC and helped Dartmouth to preserve the alpine zone on Moosilauke," DOC tour director Alicia Cruz-Uribe told The Dartmouth.

The fund was started in 2000 after the death of Guy Waterman, an avid hiker and author, who helped pioneer the "leave no trace" ethic and started other conversations about the wilderness.

According to Sochard, "one of his favorite places were the ridgelines, especially in the White Mountains," which is why the fund supports their preservation.

The Waterman Fund is part of the Upper Valley Community Foundation, based in Hanover, N.H. The fund is non-profit and donor supported.

Tickets to Forever Wild will be available at the door before the show starts Sunday at 7 p.m. The suggested donation is $10 per person and $5 for students and seniors.