Scott Schojan, founder of Scottypaluza Music Festival and percussion player, who grew up in Palmyra, died Feb. 20 at the age of 46.

He was passionate about music and life itself.

Scott Schojan, founder of Scottypaluza Music Festival and percussion player, who grew up in Palmyra, died Feb. 20 at the age of 46.

He was driven.

“It didn’t matter what he wanted to do, he’d do it,” said his wife, Christianne. “He wanted to play in a band, so he founded one.”

His band, Family Dawgz, a tribute band to the Grateful Dead, evolved when a bunch of guys got together to play at the German House in Rochester.

He had always been a hand drummer in friends’s bands and would sit in on drum circles, his wife said, but his drumming grew and took on a life of its own, as the band progressed.

“He was good at creating ambient atmospheres and textures with his vast array of percussion instruments,” said fellow musician, Herbert Heins.

But, he was happiest when he was playing music festivals, said his mother, Sue Vanetten.

He was drawn to them, added his wife, the different culture of festivals. He was a people person.

“When he came off stage, people hugged him,” she said. “His personality fit that kind of mold. He was a Leo with a big ego and thrived on the attention,” she laughed.

To contribute to the festival scene he loved, more than 15 years ago, he founded Scottypaluza Music Festival, a place for people with similar musical interests to gather, to get away from every day life, relax, be themselves, camp overnight and listen to music.

For the past 10 years the festival was held on land he purchased in Prattsburg.

“That was a huge accomplishment,” said Christianne, buying the land. He worked really, really hard to get it, to have something of his own.”

On the land, he created his own music venue, Lightning Ridge Spiritual Center, completing all the labor himself.

“He was over the top with everything,” his wife said. “Nothing was ever small, always big.”

Not only was performing a huge part of his life, but so were his four children.

Scott was a stay-at-home dad, caring for them during the day, then working his music in the evenings and on weekends.

“He was devoted to the children,” said Christianne. “I think it was his love for the children that drove him.”

He was never materialistic, but would give you the shirt off his back, his mother said.

“We grew up together,” she said. “I had him when I was 16 and knew when I first saw him that he would be special.”

Scott was aiming for his band to play bigger festivals. He also hoped to start a website devoted to music, where he could post interviews he had done with bands.

Three years ago, he founded a second band, Resistance, a reggae band, because he saw an opportunity and need for a new, local, reggae outfit for the summer festival season.

“He was a man who took risks and made things happen,” said Heins. “He was one of life’s doers.”

Always aiming for the freedom to be who you are, to celebrate family, friends and the gifts of the earth, Scott formed strong, lasting relationships, because he was loyal to friends and family, Heins said. 
Scottypaluza Music Festival will continue, with Scott’s son, Anthony, keeping the legacy going.

“Scott accomplished a lot in 46 years,” said Christianne. “He didn’t hold back. He led a fulfilled life. If he wanted to do it, he did. He lived on the edge. He was an amazing person.”

Family Dawgz plays locally in Palmyra, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Watertown.