Sandy Ficca practices on drums in his studio in Central Point. Ficca, along with the rest of the band Firefall, started a foundation to help aspiring young musicians get their start in the business. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore

Build a musical foundation

CENTRAL POINT — When he struck out on his own more than four decades ago, drummer Sandy Ficca had only the intuition of an 18-year-old musician and the desire to follow in the footsteps of a drummer named Ringo.

Ficca found the success he sought, joining the popular, long-lived rock band Firefall in 1984.

Now 58 years old, he's ready to help generations who weren't even born when he took to the musical road.

Ficca, along with the rest of Firefall, officially launched his Use Your Gift Foundation last week with a sold-out benefit concert at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theatre.

The focus of the foundation will be to help young musicians reach their goals and gain a foothold in an industry notoriously tough to break into, Ficca said.

"Basically what we want to do is take aspiring musical artists and try to get them started in the business," Ficca said.

"That could mean anything from helping them to produce or develop, mentoring them or giving them some recording experience, anything to help them enter the music business," he added. "It's a crazy world in the music business, so we try to give them a heads-up about what they can expect so that they don't go out with that mindset of, 'I'm going to go be a rock star next week!' "

Making his home in the Rogue Valley for the past six years, Ficca began his foundation's work informally three years ago when a local student asked for help with a senior project centered around music.

When the girl asked for his help, he recognized the same yearning to make music that he'd started with so many years before.

"I realized right away, when I was talking to her on the phone, that my price wasn't in her budget," Ficca said. "But after we hung up I thought about it and I felt kind of bad and I wanted to help.

"So I called her back and said, 'Why don't you give me $100, and I'll do whatever it takes to get it done.' "

When the project was completed six months later, Ficca was hooked on the energy and passion that young musicians exude.

One of more than a half-dozen early benefactors of Ficca's foundation, Central Point resident Kassidi Hodge, 17, said having help from a musician of Ficca's stature makes the overwhelming goal of producing music seem attainable.

"I have been singing since pretty much I could talk, and this is something I've always wanted to do," Hodge said.

"I think what Sandy's doing is amazing, because this will get so many teens noticed and out there and give them that opportunity to grow in their music. I really don't think there are many opportunities available for young artists."

Another local teen, 14-year-old Missy Durham, is just getting started, but she said Ficca has already helped her as a bass player.

"I really haven't heard of any foundations that help young, talented kids that want to push their lives toward music or any type of talent they have," she said.

"He really has helped me with my bass because he's done this for so long. He's always giving me tips on things to try and on what I should and shouldn't do when I play."

Ficca said he is eager to spread the word about his new venture and find more local talent in need of direction.

The more he works with young musicians, the more Ficca, an Army brat who claims Florida and North Carolina as "home," is pulled to reflect on his own beginnings in music.

"I still remember watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, and that was what made me want to be a drummer because it looked like Ringo was just having so much fun," Ficca said.

"I started playing in little garage bands in junior high and high school, and that's how I got started. But it was hard. And there was nothing really available to help a kid out, other than going to music school or something."

For more information on the foundation, see

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at

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