Vermont musicians take the stage to help a friend

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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont's top bands are giving back to a musician they say sculpted the music scene in the Green Mountains.

Ray Paczkowski, also known as the "Milk Man," is recognized nationwide for his talent, playing alongside headliners like Phish and the Dave Matthews Band.

"He's one of those guys who really stood out as a really inspirational player," said Bob Wagner, a musician in the Kat Wright band.

The Burlington man made his mark in Vermont, playing the keys in dozens of bands. But recently, his keyboard has gone silent.

"Ray Paczkowski is a friend and amazing musician who has suffered more than anyone should at that age," said Ron Ulrich, a fan of Paczkowski.

In March, Paczkowski was diagnosed with a brain tumor, days later, he underwent a successful surgery. Now, friends are using music to pay off his medical bills.

"We put out a call to a lot of people that have played in bands with Ray over the years, which is several Vermont bands," said Wagner. "So, there is no surprise that there was a lot of people excited, really excited to get together to play some music."

Dozens of Vermont's most talented musicians took the stage Wednesday night for the "Sun Ray Orchestra," a benefit in Paczkowski's honor.

"To have all of these people from all of these different musical walks of life that we have all been on, come together for this event is just phenomenal," said Michael Chorney, a band-mate of Paczkowsk.

Paczkowski couldn't make it. Friends say he's in Boston recovering from surgery. But, many say he's here in spirit, and heard through the countless bandmates he's played with throughout his life.