Performances to fund memorial scholarship

OAKDALE - When Jim Brunk wanted to come up with an idea to honor the memory of his late wife, he didn't have to think very long.

Heidi Brunk, who died at 45 in August after falling on a homemade backyard water slide, was an accomplished singer who had performed with several groups in the area, including the Songbirds, Remedy, Ernie Bucio's Little Big Band and the San Joaquin County Swiss Echoes.

Jim Brunk immediately set up a music scholarship in her name and this year is taking the next step to ensure the scholarship becomes an annual and more substantial award.

On Aug. 15, the inaugural Sierra View Music Fest will be held on the Brunk family's J-H Ranch on Sierra View Road in Oakdale, with at least nine musical acts scheduled to perform.

"Heidi was so tied in with music, studying at Dominican College and performing with bands," Brunk said. "She always wanted to do something like this, but her idea was more of a small-scale performance to get kids involved in music. When she passed, I was thinking in the days after her funeral to start a scholarship foundation. Then this came up as a way to fund the nonprofit we're setting up."

Brunk said the idea might be a few years old, but the need to fund music education has taken on a new priority with so many school districts cutting funding for arts education.

The first scholarship was awarded to an Oakdale High student, but as the scholarship endowment grows Brunk will be opening applications to schools throughout the area. Heidi Brunk was a 1981 Ripon High graduate.

"We're starting with baby steps, but we're going to send out scholarship applications to schools in the area," Brunk said. "If we raise enough funds, maybe we can offer two per year. We would be very happy to be able to award a scholarship to someone who might not otherwise be able to go to school."

He admitted there is a lot of the unknown that goes into starting what he hopes will become an annual event, and he praised the work of the volunteers who supported the effort.

The list of performers next month includes Undercover Acoustic, DAM, California Cowboys, Remedy, Sil Shoda, Wooden Jesus, Good Luck Thrift Store Outlet and Jack Daddy. There will be a special appearance by the legendary California beach party band Papa Do Run Run.

"This is an event I know Heidi would be proud of," said Brunk, who is shooting for an attendance of about 1,500. "Honestly, I don't know how big this can get."

Tickets are $20 for general admission; a $100 VIP ticket includes dinner, drinks, parking and reserved table seating. For more information, visit the event's Web site at

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at or 578-2300.