Tis the Season: Local Bands Organize Benefit Concerts

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While many musicians slow down for the holiday season, a few Winnipeg artists are taking the time to put together benefit concerts for various good causes. Local Brit-rockers Freeman have organized a benefit concert for Winnipeg Harvest, featuring The Hestons and The Stowaways. Ex-Pegger and Veal frontman Luke Doucet is instrumental in bringing together the Scott Nolan Band, Jill and Matthew Barber and Nathan for a benefit concert for Sunshine House. On December 21, My Tragic Sister, Lowball and B.U.M.P. played at the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life Benefit at Ozzy’s. Meanwhile, Sunshine Records is donating the net profits of its Christmas album A Harvest Christmas to Winnipeg Harvest.

Freeman, after realizing that Winnipeg Harvest faces many challenges – particularly during the holiday season – in feeding the city’s needy, decided to pull together its Hear the Hungry benefit. Audiences can rest assured that they will not only catch a great show but do some good, as well.

Sunshine House, which is a partnership between Kali Shiva AIDS Services, St. Matthews Church and Nine Circles Community Health Centre, offers a safe place for people who are living with HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis C or at increased risk for HIV or Hep C. It offers support services, meals, laundry and bath facilities and advocacy for street involved individuals who have difficulty accessing community services. While the partners have provided some financial support in the past, according to Bohdanna Kinasevych of Sunshine House, the house has never received any continued funding for programs or operations.

“The commitment of volunteers and generous community donations, including the support of the musicians and Shauna [de Cartier, of Six Shooter Records in Toronto, who is Doucet’s manager] who organized this event, help sustain the house,” explains Kinasevych. “Recently Sunshine House received a grant from the Winnipeg Foundation to do some program development work. However, expenses for basics like food continue to be shouldered by donations and volunteers.”

“I became interested in the Sunshine House through my mother, who has been an AIDS activist, nurse, public health researcher/writer and general outreach resource for people with street-based lifestyles,” explains ex-Acoustically Inclined guitarist Doucet. “Having grown up in and around Winnipeg's core area, one couldn't doubt the need for additional and continued support for safe havens like the Sunshine House.”

Last year’s Sunshine House benefit, which raised about $3,000 for weekly suppers at the house, was at the West End Cultural Centre with Doucet, Christine Fellows, Nathan and John K. Samson of the Weakerthans.

“Fundraisers like this one help the cause in essentially one way. Cash,” says Doucet. “A secondary benefit might include establishing a profile within the community at large, so as to create a respect and understanding of the needs of those served, and in turn a sense of ownership and responsibility for the communities in which they exist.”

Hear The Hungry Benefit for Winnipeg Harvest featuring Freeman, The Hestons, The Stowaways Friday, December 27, 2002 The Royal Albert

Sunshine House Benefit Concert featuring Luke Doucet, Scott Nolan Band, Jill and Matthew Barber, Nathan Saturday, December 28, 2002 Academy Coffee Co. 414 Academy Road Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased in advance at Academy Coffee, Music Trader or Nine Circles (705 Broadway)

A Harvest Christmas is available The at A&B Sound, Chapters – Indigo, HMV, Office Depot Centres and mail order through Sunshine Records, 275 Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg MB, R2W 2L5.

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