Photo, story and video by Scott MacWatters, published by The Daily Toreador.
More than 250 people paid tribute to Philip Wampler the best way they could — by enjoying his music.
People gathered Saturday for Phily Phunk Fest at the Lone Star Grill near Buffalo Springs Lake. At the show, 12 bands played to show support for Wampler’s music and remember his life. The concert began at 4 p.m. Saturday and went on into early Sunday morning.
Wampler, a junior civil engineering major from Lubbock, died Dec. 2, 2012. Wampler was the drummer for Stay Sane, a reggae/rock band, as well as an Eagle Scout.
Tyler Gonzales, a junior natural resource management major from Mansfield, helped organize the event.
He said he has had experience with organizing concerts in the past, as well as being a de facto manager for Stay Sane when he helped them book a small tour.
“We knew we were going to do it, like, originally, after Phil passed away,” Gonzales said. “I’ve done a few Stay Sane shows before. The idea pretty much just came up, like, ‘We have to do a show for Phil.’ It’s Stay Sane’s last show.”
Right before Stay Sane played its last performance, he said there were about 250 people at the show, each donating $10 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Friends of Scouting for entree. About $2,500 was raised to support the causes.
Carl and Susanne Wampler, Philip Wampler’s parents, said they chose the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Friends of Scouting because their son had strong feelings about those causes.
They said Philip Wampler loved his music and friends, and he would have loved the show.
“He loved Landon (Whetzel), and Trey (Whetzel), and Preston (Cornwell), and Michael, who’s playing the drums for him tonight,” Susanne Wampler said. “They were all such great friends of Philip’s. It’s just such a tribute. He would have loved this environment tonight.“
Trey Whetzel, Stay Sane’s guitarist and vocalist, said he had been looking forward to the show for a while and was excited to play for Philip Wampler.
“I’ve been waiting for it for a long time, without even really realizing it,” Trey Whetzel said. “(Stay Sane is) used to playing every week, if not once or twice a week. … There’s nothing like playing for a group of people and playing like this for a person like Phil. It brings a feeling inside of me I’ve never quite felt.”
Trey Whetzel said he first met Philip Wampler in another band, but he knew him for about three to four years.
“He was just a smartass, but in such a loving way,” Trey Whetzel said, smiling, “always making the best jokes at the best times. One of the best personalities I’ve ever known, and so intelligent. … He’s just such a brilliant person. I don’t really have words to express how much… man… how much he really meant to all of us.”
Landon Whetzel, Trey Whetzel’s brother and the bassist of Stay Sane, who is a freshman electrical engineering major from Lubbock, said he knew Wampler for about as long as Trey Whetzel did. They met at about the same time.
“Phil, he really felt like an older brother to me,” Landon Whetzel said. “He taught me a lot of stuff, like, mainly things I know about music now. Since we’re the rhythm section, it was like everything we did was based off each other. With reggae, it’s all about rhythm. I felt like when I was playing, I would be thinking what he was thinking, and he would be doing the same.”
Preston Cornwell, the saxophone player for Stay Sane, said he knew Phil since third or fourth grade, when they played football together.
“(I) always had good times with Phil,” Cornwell said. “Everywhere we went, we always hung out … His attitude was good. It was hard for him to get angry or mad, really about anything. He was always good to be around. I felt like I could always just sit and talk with him.”
Carl and Susanne Wampler said they were glad so many people could come together to remember their son and his music.
“He just enjoyed life,” Carl Wampler said. “He liked doing things that were a challenge to him. He’d take an interest in something, figure out how to do it and master it. Anything from juggling, to yo-yo tricks, to Rubix cubes, to riding a unicycle — of course, all of his music and learning to play instruments. He did take piano lessons. He was in the band in high school, he learned to play the guitar, and he was learning to play the harmonica. He just had a real talent and a real love for music.”
Moments before Stay Sane began their final performance, Carl and Susanne Wampler took the stage to thank the crowd for the support.
“All of you that knew Philip knew that he loved a crowd of people, he loved this venue,” Susanne Wampler said. “This is a perfect, overwhelming situation to know that all of you guys loved him and loved Stay Sane. Thank you all so much for your support, not only of our family, but for (Stay Sane).”
The crowd erupted with cheers and applause.
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Content is (c) Scott MacWatters / The Daily Toreado